Mercedes and Tesla Could Climb Into Bed Together Once Again
It worked out well for Tesla back in 2009by Sidd Dhimaan, on
Did you know Mercedes-Benz and Tesla worked together closely back in 2009? In fact, the German automaker saved Tesla from bankruptcy by acquiring almost 10-percent stake in the company. Since then, both companies have grown apart and taken their own paths, but Mercedes-Benz is still open to working with Tesla in the future.
These Two Go A Long Way Back
According to a Polish newspaper Rzeczpospolita, Daimler’s CEO, Dieter Zetsche, did not rule out a future partnership with Tesla.
In 2009, Daimler acquired 10-percent stakes for $50 Million and worked closely to incorporate the American automaker’s lithium-ion battery packs and charging electronics into the first 1,000 units of Daimler’s electric smart car.
Talking about how Daimler invested in the Silicon Valley startup in 2009, Zetsche said, "Let’s start with the fact that we decided to buy shares in Tesla at the critical moment for this company.” “We wanted to show the market that we believe in electric drive technology.”
However, Daimler sold its stake in 2014 for a healthy gain of nearly $800 million. Zetsche said, "However, when Tesla shares went up sharply, we came to the conclusion that since we are not specialists in stock market games, only from building cars, it is better to withdraw. We got rid of the action, and I did not regret it for a moment." In 2016, Mercedes-Benz completely stopped working with Tesla. Just two years after the break-up, Tesla outsold Mercedes-Benz in the U.S. for the first time in the third quarter of 2018.
Friends With Benefits
Both were benefited from this, as Tesla got the financial backup, whereas Mercedes-Benz was able to venture into a field where it had limited technical know-how. At that time, the investment enabled both the automakers to collaborate even more closely on the development of battery systems, electric drive systems, and in individual vehicle projects. This included the first generation of Mercedes-Benz’s B-Class electric car.
Mercedes-Benz extending the olive branch is a clear indication that the automaker needs help. Recently, it announced that its ‘Smart’ sub-brand will be dissolved. Before this, the Germans even axed its U.S. energy subsidiary that built batteries for residential homes - another market that put Mecedes against Tesla.
Last month, Zetsche announced that he will quit as Daimler's CEO in May next year, and the reins will be taken over by his chosen successor to figure out a new vision for the failed electric vehicle strategy, the Swedish-born Ola Källenius.
The automaker recently launched its first all-electric crossover, the EQC, which will hit dealers in 2020 in the U.S; but the initial impressions are no match to Tesla’s drivetrain, battery, over-the-air updates, and autonomous technologies.
Read our full review on the 2018 Tesla Model 3.
Read our full review on the 2019 Mercedes-Benz EQC.
Read our full review on the 2014 Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive.