Daimler CEO Says Tesla Took The “Granola” Out Of The Electric Car

2 months ago by Eric Loveday 22

Mercedes-Benz F015 – Luxury in Motion

In mid-March, on the sidelines of SXSW, Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche told German magazine T3N that Tesla was responsible for doing away with the negative image of the electric car.

Mercedes-AMG Project One – This Plug-In Has No Granola Either

According to reports, Zetsche made the comment in such a way that it came off like this:

“Tesla has certainly set a positive impulse because they do not say electromobility is renunciation [of power] and about ‘granola image’, but on the contrary: that is power and enthusiasm. And that is the right way.”

The T3N interview with Zetsche is very long winded and includes numerous comments from Daimler’s CEO. Time and again throughout the interview he applauds Tesla and CEO Elon Musk. Zetsche also says that Mercedes-Benz has been an electric car supporter for over a decade now and notes that the automaker aims to be the segment leader in the coming years with its new EQ electric vehicle sub brand.

The interview closes with these statements from Musk and Zetsche on how Daimler saved Tesla:

Musk: “Without Daimler, Tesla would not exist. Daimler saved Tesla.”

Zetsche: “At the time the investment was relatively important for Tesla, because they had some difficulties at the time to go to the next financing round. I believe the money that we have invested and the other investors that followed helped Tesla back then.” 

Source: T3N via Electrek

Tags: , , ,

22 responses to "Daimler CEO Says Tesla Took The “Granola” Out Of The Electric Car"

  1. Brendan says:

    Tesla made electric cars desireable and a symbol of status and innovation. Looking forward to the model 3!!!

    1. SJC says:

      EVs did not have a negative image during the EV1 era. I suppose when you believe what you want anything is possible.

      1. Anon says:

        WTF??? Even GM’s own advertising at the time, was anti-EV!!!

        https://consumerist.com/2009/02/04/really-creepy-ads-killed-the-electric-car/

        And don’t forget– the term, “Range Anxiety” was claimed to be coined (and trade marked) by GM:

        http://www.autoblog.com/2011/04/27/q-did-gms-tony-posawatz-coin-the-term-range-anxiety/

        Your revisionist history is not appreciated.

        1. SJC says:

          Stuff it.

          1. Foo says:

            Anon’s right SJC.

            1. Nix says:

              Foo is right, SJC.

      2. unlucky says:

        Sure they did. They had a reputation as slow golf karts. The Simpsons gag of the time said it all.

        ‘Hello. I’m an electric car. I can’t go very fast or very far and if you drive me people will think you’re gay.’

        I don’t subscribe to the above bizarre theory of GM’s EV1 ad trying to scare people way from EVs.

        1. Bill Howland says:

          The ‘old’ GM really did try to scare people away from electric cars – as Ralph Nader says they’d been saying Electrics are just around the corner since the late ’40’s.

          Proof is seen with the EV1. Instead of being proud of making the first really practical electric car in 80 years, they showed spooky ‘Shadow Laden’ mannequin advertisements which only showed a slight corner of the Car. Talk about Implied Death.

          Meanwhile mustangs were sold with Catherine Deneuve (sp?) caressing the gear shift. That is how you sell cars.

  2. Jason says:

    These companies always have these very nice, futuristic looking cars in the background, but none of them ever get to market. Wouldn’t it be interesting if they actually just made that vehicle and see what happens?

    1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      Concept cars are often made with no restriction on money spent, nor on how much the market would like the car.

      Putting a car into mass production is quite different. There, the auto maker must consider the cost of every single component, as well as the cost of assembly. And paying for tooling up to produce a new model “just to see what would happen” with sales is a strategy that would lead to bankruptcy rather quickly.

      The Ford Edsel pretty well demonstrates what happens when an auto maker ignores what the market wants, and decides to put a new model into high volume production even when it doesn’t match what customers want. In the case of the Edsel, it was a new model of luxury car Ford attempted to sell during an economic downturn when customers were looking for more affordable, more fuel-efficient vehicles with a lower Total Cost of Ownership.

      1. Bill Howland says:

        The Edsel brand died when the Reliability of the car turned out to be too low – especially about critical parts of the car.

        For instance, the lighted pushbutton transmission controls in the middle of the steering wheel controlled a shift motor which died much too frequently, leaving the customer stranded since they couldn’t get out of ‘Park’.

        Rambler (using Borg-Warner Automatics) and Chrysler’s automatic transmissions used reliable cable actuated push-button “Armstrong” actuators not dependent on an unreliable electrical link.

        Then FORD doubled-down on the error by trying to Over-Advertise the car – itself leading the company to being Parodied. Then the comments came about what the center front of the Grille looked like (uh, in between a woman’s 2 big toes).

        After GM lately threw off Frigidaire, then Hummer, Pontiac, and Oldsmobile, – FORD got into the act by eliminating at first PHILCO, and then later their MERCURY sub-brand from Lincoln-Mercury – trying to prop up Lincoln as something exceedingly special. Since they only have two brands for the North American market anyway, they’re meeting measured successes.

        The auto manufacturers possibly being driven by Wall Street concerns – all seem to do “Monkey See Monkey Do” activities – even Chrysler dumping AIRTEMP, then later DODGE and Plymouth (but coming up with a RAM division), and, since the company was basically GIVEN to FIAT, not-so-curiously held on to all its Italian Sub-brands.

  3. unlucky says:

    I see what he is saying. Tesla undoubtedly managed to sell a bunch of EVs to people simply by being an interesting, trendy car – regardless of electric drive.

    However there also has been a huge expansion in appeal of EVs to people which isn’t due to granola or Tesla.

    There has been a large expansion in the sales of EVs to people who are simply looking for an economical, convenient local-area car (similar to a city car). It is the availability of affordable (after subsidy) EVs and a modicum of infrastructure that has made this possible. It isn’t due to Tesla.

    If I were Benz, looking to sell pricey cars to people I’d certainly see Tesla as the largest factor and the model to follow. But if you go by sales figures (units, not currency) Tesla is smaller part of the story.

    It’s going to come from both ends. It’s going to come from high-end cars akin to Teslas being sold to rich people. It’s going to come from granola buyers. It’s going to come from plain-old cheapskates. It’s going to come from parents looking to get cars for their kids which they would *prefer* be slow and they sure don’t mine some range limiting either.

    It’s even going to come from customers starting from BMWs disappointing minimum-range, tax-credit earning (at low added cost) PHEVs and deciding they want something which uses electricity more often.

    And on top of all, what’s really going to drive companies like Benz into it is It’s a growth business. Companies like to enter growing markets.

    So thanks to Tesla. Thanks to Musk who is amazing at delivering the message. Thanks for the governments who had the foresight to create the incentives that made it easier to Tesla to do what they already wanted to do and enticed some of the lumbering companies to jump into the EV market with one foot or a couple toes. And the same incentives that made is possible for the EV enthusiasts (whether granola or just currentheads) to buy the car they wanted but was tough to find on the market before 2011.

    1. Rob Stark says:

      Without Tesla the EV Revolution dies. Simple as that. Bob Lutz has specifically said without Tesla Roadster GM does not approve the Volt.

      No Chevy Bolt and doubtful a LEAF 2.0 is ever built. Most likely LEAF program is discontinued as a loser. Without other automakers political support in the form of subsidies and emission regulations favoring EVs, basically LEAF only, dies. Even in Japan the Abe government is pushing hydrogen fuel cell cars much much harder than BEV/LEAF.

      Without the Supercharger Network doubtful any network gets funded beyond a microniche clusters of slow chargers only in major urban centers. A few LEAFs puttering around San Francisco, Tokyo, and London is not enough.

      1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        Hmmm, well, I think an all-electric “supercar” sports car was an idea whose time had come. Martin Eberhard and possibly Elon Musk (to the extent that we can believe the latter’s revisionist history) both took rides in AC Propulsion’s tZero and wanted one of their own. If Eberhard and Tarpenning hadn’t created Tesla Motors, it seems likely that some other startup would have done something similar.

        Even if nobody took a “top down” approach to creating an electric car company — starting at the top end of the market and working down, as Tesla successfully did — the bottom up approach is working well in China, and would eventually have spread to first-world countries as the cost for producing an EV powertrain (including batteries) continues to fall.

        However, we can certainly credit Tesla for pushing forward the EV revolution significantly farther than it would be today in first-world countries if the company didn’t exist.

  4. David Murray says:

    And several auto makers still don’t get it. For example, why is the Mitsubishi i-Miev still on the market? That vehicle is the poster-child of what the oil companies and auto-makers would LIKE people to think of the electric car: ugly, slow, limited range, and a big compromise with no other purpose than to save the environment.

    Tesla is forcing auto makers to at least put forth some minimum effort and it is starting to show with some of the newer EVs and PHEVs coming out.

    1. JustWilliamPDX says:

      Mitsubishi simply didn’t have the money, and the Nissan/Renault alliance rescued them in the Nick of time. Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi EVs will all be based on a common component set going forward.

      The i-Miev is old by contemporary EV standards, but still quite space and energy efficient, light, and inexpensive. Sadly, the U.S. market for such vehicles is horrible, and Mitsubishi dealers as a whole are not well admired.

      1. Nix says:

        That is correct. The iMiev wasn’t supposed to be the end of the Mitsubishi pure EV program. They ran out of money before they could get to the good stuff. The next step was supposed to be an AWD sport version with more power and range:

        Then after that, next was supposed to be the all-electric Evo:

        http://www.autoblog.com/2006/11/08/mitsubishi-evo-goes-all-electric/

        But the 2008/9 global economic crash happened, and Mitsubishi really still hasn’t recovered.

  5. pjwood1 says:

    “they do not say electromobility is renunciation [of power]”

    Yet Elon takes M3 the dash away, and makes a “taxi” sound like the objective.

    1. pjwood1 says:

      typo ..the M3..

  6. Daytongarmin says:

    I’m not an EV expert like most people posting here so please forgive my ignorance. Tony Seba has an interesting video on YouTube about EVs and even has some interesting ideas about experts in the field.

    Meanwhile I’m left to putter around the neighborhood in my electric golf cart.

    Your friend,
    P90DL

  7. JB says:

    I see a lot of people going very hard on traditionnal OEMs for not going full speed into EV. Basically some don’t understand why every OEM is not trying to become Tesla.

    I’m an EV (and Tesla) enthusiast but for sure Musk has a freedom of action that traditionnal OEMs don’t have. Tesla can report losses every quarter without any impact its value, just because it has a sufficient “fanbase” (including very traditionnal investors). It is not the case for basically all the other companies in the world.

    So yes, for now EV are 1% of the global market, and the forecasts hardly go beyond 10-15% market share in 2025. At the same time OEMs forecast even bigger shares for their EV programs among their global shares (20-25% for Volkswagen in 2025), and are in my opinion largely overoptimistic.

    I find it quite hard to blame them for not blindly investing in an rush, unprepared go-to-market and undergo mass production while thechnology (especially batteries and charging) is not yet 100% mature.

    I very much prefer to see them presenting reliable, competitive, mass-produced EV by the early 2020’s. And then catch up on ICE, just because their EV are better and make economical sense.

    1. John Doe says:

      As of now, I know about investment in electric cars in Europe, for about 29 billion Euruos.
      European rules will have to add more electric cars.

      Daimler is investing a lot (Mercedes/Smart, batteries for homes and utilities, trucks/busses and so on).

      VW is investing a lot too. They make several models now, and I have driven the electric Golf – which is just an electic regular Golf. Which is more silent then a Tesla by the way. Probably because they have kept the sound insulation from the ICE models.
      They sell more electric cars in Norway then Tesla does. At least until model 3 comes.
      VW are in design talks with Festo regarding battery factory automation. There are two major German chemical companies that is feeling the mood for cooperation for a cell factory.
      GM/Opel does clearly not want to sell their cars. No advertisments, but still 4700 people in line to buy one. No they are starting to cancel their orders. They have only delivers a handful of cars so far.
      Renault/Nissan/Mitsubishi have 3 (8-9) models coming, that share a lot of the technology. To cut cost, and to make small scale (compared to ICE) production still profitable.
      Renault were having problems with the first version of their Zoe model, because of TN/IT issues, for charging their car in Norway.
      Now more or less resolved – but they lost two very important years.
      Nissan with their electric E-NV200 Evalia. . why oh why does they not just give it a bit more range. A cheap 7 seter, or a small delivery van for businesses. I find that strange. Does the Spanish factory not have the capasity? Why not just add the new Leaf batteries?
      The range on the small van from Renault is also just rediculous.

      The Peugeot iOn, Citroèn Zero, Mitsu imiew is dirt cheap, but does not sell well. The range is too low. Why does they not just install higher capasity batteries with the same physical size – like BMW did? If the prize would be the same – they would tripple their sales easily. Great as a small city car, to commute to work and so on.

      And in China, there is a lot of investment in cars and batteries. Not only by Chinese companies but LG and Samsung are building extra factories.

      Lets just hope Tesla sells a **itload of model 3 – to speed up range for other cars.
      Tesla should make a small, medium and large cargo van – with an OK range, and with extra range as an option. Vans like that drives much longer then a regular car, and the environmental benefits would be massive.
      A van is more important then a truck or a bus. They do a lot of city driving. Electric busses are already here anyway – from many companies.

Leave a Reply