Daimler AG has acquired an equity stake of nearly 10% in Tesla Motors Inc. The two companies have already been working closely to integrate Tesla’s lithium-ion battery packs and charging electronics into the first 1,000 units of Daimler’s electric smart car. (Earlier post.)
This investment deepens the relationship between the two, and enables the partners to collaborate even more closely on the development of battery systems, electric drive systems and in individual vehicle projects. Executives from both companies announced the arrangement this morning in a webcast press conference.
Tesla has demonstrated expertise with electric vehicles, but nowhere near the experience and capability of an organization like Daimler in terms of general automotive experience with safety, mass production, all those things. Tesla brings those new elements of electric powertrain, Daimler provides to Tesla the traditional elements which are extremely important if we are going to mass production.
Where I see the significant value, the mutually beneficial partnership, is that Tesla brings expertise on the battery electric front, Daimler brings expertise associated with everything else on the automobile.—Elon Musk, Tesla CEO and Product Architect
As part of the collaboration, Prof. Herbert Kohler, Vice President E-Drive and Future Mobility at Daimler AG, will take a seat on Tesla’s board of directors.
|“Tesla’s R&D is on the pack not the cell. Tesla is agnostic as to...the cell. We are happy to use a Li-Tec cell, or Panasonic or [others].”
Daimler says that the long-term partnership with Tesla complements Daimler’s multi-facetted strategy to advance the electrification of the automobile. In March, Daimler founded the Deutsche Accumotive GmbH, a joint lithium-ion venture with Evonik Industries AG. (Earlier post.) Daimler also has a stockholding in Li-Tec, a subsidiary of Evonik.
Daimler has had 100 smart electric cars undergoing large-scale trials in London since 2007. These electric vehicles are being tested in day-to-day assignments by fleet operators and private customers. Later this year, the smart assembly plant in Hambach, France, will start production of up to 1,000 units of the second-generation smart fortwo with electric drive, which will initially be used for mobility projects such as e-mobility Berlin or e-mobility Italy.
This year Daimler is also starting small-series production of the Mercedes-Benz B-Class with a fuel cell drive system. In 2010 the company will introduce its first battery-powered Mercedes-Benz. As of 2012, Daimler plans to equip all smart and Mercedes-Benz electric vehicles with own produced lithium-ion batteries.
In 2004, Tesla began development of its first electric vehicle, the Roadster, and is the first US- and EU-certified lithium-ion battery electric vehicle. Tesla unveiled its second car, the Model S, and plans to produce it beginning in 2011. The base pack for the Model S, Musk noted in the question and answer session of the press conference, would use some 8,000 cells were it to use the same cells applied in the Roadster pack.
We also are looking at potentially using other cells for the Model S...We are in agreement with Daimler that in the long term fewer cells makes sense.—Elon Musk