Daimler CEO Says Automaker Is Still Open To Working With Tesla

OCT 29 2018 BY MARK KANE 18

Daimler’s 2009 investment in Tesla was crucial.

Dieter Zetsche – in one of the latest interviews – was asked about Daimler‘s $50 million investment in Tesla in 2009 and later sales of shares for some $780 million in 2014. The move apparently saved Tesla from bankruptcy (other investors followed Daimler at a later stage) and fruited in EV conversion projects (smart fortwo ED, Mercedes-Benz A-Class E-CELL low-volume and thousands of Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive).

Zetsche said: “never regretted it. This does not exclude a cooperation in the future.”

Well, it was a good business deal for Daimler in the end, as we could assume that all the early EVs were financed from the increased price of Tesla shares. However, at the same time Daimler bred not only a competitor for Mercedes-Benz but for the entire automotive industry and now needs to work harder for its market share.

Mercedes-Benz A-Class E-CELL

Dieter Zetsche seems open to further cooperation with Tesla, but we rather shouldn’t read this as an announcement. It’s more like a pragmatic approach to not exclude any options. There is also no intention to buy Tesla shares again.

We don’t know what the future will bring, but even if the roads of Daimler and Tesla join again, it will be not under Zetsche who leaves Daimler’s CEO position in May 2019.

Here is what Elon Musk said in the past about the Tesla investment:

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: Reuters

Categories: Daimler, Tesla

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18 Comments on "Daimler CEO Says Automaker Is Still Open To Working With Tesla"

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Benz

Never say never.

Maybe in the next decade (or the decade after that decade), but not very likely.

fasterthanonecanimagine

They could start by licensing in Tesla’s autopilot and data collecting solution or by participating in the supercharger network (would cost them a couple of billions upfront plus the financing of the next 10’000 chargers).

ffbj

They could probably sell some of their existing plants to Tesla whereas they throw in the workers too, after all those are only things they have that Tesla could use. Plus they would not have to throw as many people out of work, when demand for their cars falls, and they are forced to scale back hours or even idle plants.

Henry

Tesla appears to be the one that got away for MB (or Toyota if they have the gut to admit).

amt

Never Regretted the 2009 Tesla Investment ….r o t f ..l m a o….They Made In Excess Of TWENTY MILLION Dollars , If Not Fifty Million$$$$? When Mercedes Sold Their Tesla Stock …This Guy Is Funny .. I GUESS There are No Regrets & Now They Need EV Technology So They Want To “Work With Tesla”….What A Joker

Some Guy

They bought in for 50 Million and exited for 780 million. That is a nice profit. Had they kept the stock back then, and never sold, it would be worth more than 5 billion now. That would be even nicer.
But collaborating with Tesla now, other than Tesla sourcing some minor parts for Model S from Daimler?
Tesla has a lot on the plate, I don’t know if they still have resources to do a small side project like the RAV4 EV for Toyota or B250e that they did for Daimler. Maybe if the price is right. But EV wise, what would be in it for Tesla collaborating with a manufacturer that declared itself leader in EV technology a while back and is (as of September 2018) not even in the top 20 in worldwide sales by manufacturer?

amt

Thx. for Clarifying that Guy , It was Much Bigger than I Recall . Though I knew it was Huge & Wasn’t sure of the numbers.

Pushmi-Pullyu

Some think that Tesla is production constrained by battery cell supply. I doubt that’s true; Elon recently said that was no longer a problem. But it certainly looks like Tesla has very little if any excess battery cells, because they aren’t making nearly as many PowerWalls as they have demand for.

I doubt Tesla is in a position to supply other EV makers with battery packs, as they have in the past.

Where Tesla would be eager to collaborate with other auto makers is in building out the Supercharger network. I’m sure Tesla wishes that some others would have taken their invitation to join.

Will

No but they can make batteries to upgrade batteries of older Toyota and Benz EVs

Chris O

Professional response. Sincere…I think if Daimler had known that Tesla would go on to be their number one competitor it might have handled things differently all those years ago. I doubt the speculative gains it made quite make up for the havoc Tesla is causing in the luxury class these days.

john Doe
They knew their investment probably saved Tesla from going bankrupt back in 09, and they excited Tesla when they had decided to focus more on EVs themselves. Should have kept the stocks though.. would have been a really good investment. BTW all luxury brands have record sales, even though some markets sell less, others sell more. Number of cars sold globally are growing, and we really need to get more EVs for sure. Expensive EVs are not the most important ones, since they are low volume vehicles compared to the huge number of cheap cars being sold. We need a bunch of cheap EVs to cover the demand of China, India, South America, Latin America and Africa. They need to cover the range from the cheapest to the upper middle class. These will be made by Chinese and Indian companies, and also by the huge western and Japanese corporations with factories all over the world. We will probably see really cheap EVs with no airbags, no ESP, no AC, manual windows and probably no ABS either . . as basic as it gets – just like the cheapest ICE cars being sold in developing countries. Don’t expect sat nav or… Read more »
leafowner

I guess the quest is who will own who in the future…..my money is on Tesla eventually sucking up some excess assembly capacity– from whom is yet unknown (my money is still on Fiat/Chrysler) tho….

Will

Me too. FCA is in dire straits

David H

Maybe I’m reading this wrong or it’s a bad translation, but the way his statement is written in the Reuters article seems to imply that he didn’t regret _selling_ the Tesla shares, no?
“I don’t regret selling X, but that does not exclude a cooperation in the future” sounds more plausible than
“I don’t regret buying X, but that does not exclude a cooperation in the future”.

Mike

While I don’t feel sorry for these guys, I bet they wish they didn’t have to constantly answer Tesla-related questions and they could just be focusing on promoting their cars.

Bob Wilson

Sad to say, today’s Daimler engineering and manufacturing would probably be poison to Tesla. They chose their path and went back to ICE. If anyone from Daimler showed up, they would think, “Ich bin hier, um Tesla vor der Zerstörung zu bewahren, indem ich ihnen beibringe, dass alles, was sie getan haben, falsch war.”

Will

Engineers are not at fault. They just doing thier job

Milfan

MB is not in Top-20 among automakers in Worldwide plugin sales. They are not interested, why work with them. Now Tesla is in a much better position. If there is any opportunity for Tesla to buy/lease a factory from MB, then they should look into it.