Daimler today bought an almost 10% stake in US electric car company Tesla Motors. The LA Times has more:
In January, Daimler selected Tesla to provide batteries and chargers for the German company’s Smart EV electric car. The investment in Tesla “enables the partners to collaborate even more closely on the development of battery systems, electric drive systems and in individual vehicle projects,” the companies said in a press release.
Tesla currently makes the $109,000 all-electric two-seat roadster. In March, the San Carlos-based company unveiled a prototype of its $57,400 Model S electric sedan. Tesla plans to build the car, which gets 160 to 300 miles on a single charge-up depending on the version, at a plant in Southern California beginning in late 2011
Tesla was recently unable to complete a $100-million round of venture funding and had turned to low-cost federal loans as an option for financing.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk said that Daimler’s “engineering production and supply chain expertise” will “accelerate bringing (the) Tesla Model S to production,” according to the LAT. Daimler, in turn, will be able to use Tesla’s lithium-ion batteries for its new batch of battery-powered Mercedes, due for release in 2010. Daimler VP Herbert Kohler will also join Tesla’s board of directors.
The Daimler partnership will help Tesla, which sells battery packs, powertrains, and solar charges as well as cars, to insulate its business. Ideally, it will be able to leverage those divisions to continue working towards its goal of supplying affordable EVs. The Daimler partnership will help Tesla cars gain a foothold in the market beyond the niche supplied by first-mover advantages. Tesla cars will also be stronger when big car manufacturers start taking interest in affordable EVs.
Daimler, meanwhile, gets its hands on good batteries for its electric Mercedes, as well as a say on the board. For now, the partnership looks like a win-win situation.