The B Class Electric Drive has been delayed until 2015 for many customers in the U.S.

As Competition Heats Up, Daimler Wants More Plug-in Babies With Tesla

A few months after the Tesla Model S first went on sale in Europe, the Californian automaker is still proving popular with European EV buyers, outselling all other plug-in cars in some European countries.

But it isn’t just European consumers who can’t get enough of Tesla: it turns out that some automakers can’t get enough either.

Smart ForTwo ED

The Smart ForTwo Electric Drive uses Tesla-engineered batteries and motor.

Enter German automaker Daimler, whose investment in Tesla back in 2009 not only secured it a lucrative research and development partnership, but eventually led to Tesla supplying it with battery packs and motors for use in its Smart ForTwo Electric Drive and soon-to-launch 2014 Mercedes-Benz B-Class EV.

With rival automaker BMW flexing its muscles in the electric car marketplace with its soon-to-launch i3 electric hatchback however, Daimler is keen to expand its electric car offering without sacrificing a much-needed cut in operating costs. Working on more electric car partnerships is the logical next-step.

As Bloomberg reports, Daimler isn’t afraid to publicise its willingness to work with Tesla on new partnerships. Moreover, its motives are clear: to catch and beat BMW’s sales lead in the luxury EV segment.

“We should look at more cooperation so we like the stake,”  Daimler’s Chief Financial Officer Bodo Uebber said at a New York press conference earlier today.

Moreover, with Daimler needing to cut an estimated €2 billion from its costs through 2014 in order to match BMW in terms of profits, utilising Tesla’s technical know-how could shave millions off the cost usual research and development bills which come from developing a plug-in platform from scratch. In short, as Uebber said at the conference, expanding Daimler’s partnership with Tesla would “once again close the gap with our competition on sales and margins.”

The Mercedes-Benz B-Class EV -- due to launch next year in the U.S. -- also uses Tesla technology

The Mercedes-Benz B-Class EV — due to launch next year in the U.S. — also uses Tesla technology

Of course, using Tesla’s known how to help it make electric cars won’t just benefit Daimler’s bottom line. Much like reputation of cars like the Talbot (Chrysler) Sunbeam and Vauxhall Carlton were transformed in the 1970s and 1980s thanks to engineering partnerships with British-based sports car manufacturer Lotus, so too does Tesla’s involvement with Daimler give any plug-in cars from the Daimler group instant credibility.

While that alone won’t help Daimler catch and beat BMW in the EV marketplace, an ongoing partnership with Tesla would certainly give it a bit of a leg-up. There’s only one question now: while Daimler has said it would be keen to expand its partnership, Tesla has kept silent on the issue.

Will it reciprocate Daimler’s desire to go steady, or ditch it in favour of pursuing its own dreams? Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.



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  • CDspeed

    It’s hard to say how anything will play out, but at least BMW is doing their own thing rather then hiring a specialist. And is it just me or is Tesla’s success driving the electric future forward? Tesla’s effect on the automotive world is incredible.

  • vdiv

    I’d like to see that “EV sales lead” BMW has over Daimler if it turns out the B-class ED has a longer EV range for the same price…nnnBy any chance do you count the Smart ForTwo EDs and the SLS AMG ED when determining the current sales lead?

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