Daimler Reportedly Rents Tesla Model X, Tests and Dismantles It

Tesla Model X


Tesla Model X

Tesla Model X

Rent a couple’s personal Tesla Model X, beat the snot out of it, return it and you’re good to go. Apparently, this is how Daimler is going about the benchmarking process.

As Mercedes moves forward in its pursuit of releasing an all-electric SUV in the near future, Daimler is willing to do whatever it takes to get a closer look at the competition.

German publication, Der Spiegel, claims that Daimler rented a Tesla Model X for comparison tests. The automaker proceeded to rack up miles on endurance tests and racing, completely dismantled the vehicle, then put it back together and returned it in less-than-desirable condition. Damages were to the tune of some $10,000-$20,000, which some sources claim Daimler gladly paid, while others say the rental company has covered the costs.

Either the German automaker couldn’t get ahold of a Model X for testing, or someone at Daimler did some math and figured that paying for the rental and damages would still save a ton of money. Plus, they wouldn’t have to fork over any dough to a competitor.

The car rental came from a company called Sixt, however, reports seem to indicate that the rental actually happened through another third-party company. The car was owned by a couple who put it up for rent through the company while they were away on vacation. Daimler had the car for an entire week, during which it was completely dismantled and then put back together, used on a test track, underwent heat and vibration testing, and was driven all the way to a racetrack in Barcelona.

It’s not uncommon for automakers to test and benchmark competing vehicles. Usually, however, the company purchases the car. It’s not as if Daimler doesn’t have the cash to do so, and to think that it’s okay to destroy an individual’s ~$100,000 car is absurd. The fact that the rental was through an agency that rents people’s personal vehicles makes it even more bothersome. Had Daimler rented from a traditional car rental outfit that owns the cars and rents them, it may have been a little less disheartening, although still not the right thing to do.

Sixt shared that its policy doesn’t allow for this sort of behavior, however, the agency didn’t officially name Daimler in the incident. Though, it appears that all Daimler had to do was pay for the repairs and walk away without any sort of lawsuit or additional fines. We will continue to follow the development of this story and share updates if any further actions ensue.

What do you think?

Keep the conversation going in our Forum. Start a new thread about this article and make your point heard.

Sources: Der Spiegel Online, Reddit, Tesla Motors Club

Categories: Tesla

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75 Comments on "Daimler Reportedly Rents Tesla Model X, Tests and Dismantles It"

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Renting out your “autonomous car” for ridesharing could result in similar consequences.

SparkEV, that’s exactly what I was thinking.
How could Mercedes-Benz in good conscience do this to someone’s vehicle without their knowledge and consent?

They should be sued. There’s a difference between incidental damage and renting with the explicit intent of doing all these things to the car.

The owners should get a new car on top of additional monetary damages, all from Daimler.

I agree, it shows the lack of real integrity and or lack of respect of other companies properties. Sounds like another possable scandal, bad press that is not needed and may cause loss of productive corporate man hours wasted in investigating though indirectly impact R & D and stockholders.

This is not the whole story it doesn’t add Up! They can’t dismantle a rental car that doesn’t belong to them.. They haven’t Lost their mind I don’t think..

No different than renting a house to party and ruins it and pay the penalty.

Yes. They owe this couple a Brand New Tesla.

Good luck in court.

That is “issues” that comes with rentals…

Since Mercedes is already paying $20K penalty, then there isn’t much for them to do. That is why running a personal vehicle for rental business has its own risks.

Apperantly they did do so…
Not good for the companies reputation, but they do not seem to care…

It’s not the first time they did this. They rented a DHL ev van and trashed it.

Another Euro point of view

This is European thriftiness as its best.

Mercedes could argue “well look, we fixed it for you, look at Tesla Björn Model X on youtube, he got his taken away twice by Tesla on a flatbed so we thought we better fix the bugs in anticipation so YOU don’t get stranded”.

Disassembling someone’s car and using it for endurance testing then saying you did them a favor is like subjecting someone’s dog to medical experiments and claiming you’re keeping it healthy.

Not cool either way.

That isn’t about thriftiness, it’s probably about getting this car as fast as possible.

And an important fact is, that Daimler asked Sixt for that car and Sixt knew what Daimler will do with it, but they didn’t tell and they gave it back in this condition.

The Best, For Nothing

Thank you for the laugh!


Good one!

Thriftiness means something different here in the US.

Sounds about right…The goal most likely was to not damage it in the first place…

Who exactly leaked this info anyways? “Daimler had the car for an entire week, during which it was completely dismantled and then put back together, used on a test track, underwent heat and vibration testing, and was driven all the way to a racetrack in Barcelona.” Because now the couple will (and should) most likely sue especially if Tesla has voided the cars warranty in light of this story…

Endurance test is wear and tear on the car.
Far more than expected.
This couple is OWED a Brand New Tesla.

“The goal most likely was to not damage it in the first place…”


Look, as far as I’m concerned this is just a rumor. But if it’s true, how can you possibly claim Daimler’s goal was “not to damage it” if they deliberately subjected it to stress tests and even took it apart?

Daimler doesn’t have techs trained to work on the Tesla Model X. The idea that they could take it apart and put it back together in its original condition is absurd. It’s a fantasy.

“The idea that they could take it apart and put it back together in its original condition is absurd” Why? Plenty of trained engineers/technicians are capable of doing so. The only things that they can’t do is to have “security” features that is designed to keep things from being open. If that is the case, then Mercedes wouldn’t have the parts to replace them with. Take things apart your competitor’s product is often what industry does. Plenty of my company’s competitors do that. We sometimes found product returned for service in the company that I worked that comes back from our competitors that are clearly opened up with markings in them. It is very clear that they have opened them up and characterized each and every major hardware component. They often managed to do a decent job putting them back together. (A well designed product is often designed with DFM/DFR in mind so they are easily taken apart and put back together. It is good for service as well as assembly. But we do put certain security features in them to capture events such as this so we would know. Granted, this is a rental case. They certainly “shouldn’t” take… Read more »

EVs have tracking devices. Just like the DHL van that Daimler rented and trashed. Not the brightest group of engineers.

“It’s 10 o’clock. Do you know where your Tesla is?”

That is how they found out.
Via the app. it showed up on the Barcelona testrack!

This is a great chance for Tesla to win over some new German fans.

Replace the X at no charge to the owner and publicly humiliate Daimler in the German press.


If true, that’s criminal.


If you rent out your Model X or S, you should expect it to be raced because that’s what many people and outlets, including Insideevs promotes.

And it’s possible that “completely dismantled ” may be a gross exaggeration.

The vehicle has been in the shop of a company specialized for disaasembling (for reverse engineering down to the last screw) for 4 entire days. These subcontractors work major overtime if necessary. All things not welded together have been removed, for sure.

If you cant beat them,steal and copy?.

Some important details are missing. The connection to Daimler was made by a parking ticket from the companies security on one of their plants. So it was definitely Daimler.

Furthermore the chain of renting is not really clear in this article. There is a family who ownes 3 Teslas and runs some sort of rental business with them. Sixt approached this couple for a long time rental. And Sixt rented this car to Daimler. Furthermore the couple had to deal with the “automotive relation manager” from Sixt, which points directly to an automotive company.

In the original article there are much more information and details. Fascinating story

BTW something similar happend recently with a street scooter by the deutsche Post. GPS tracking showed that the car has been on the Daimler plant.

Daimler again rented the car through a third party.

Some facts: – The testing was 7 weeks, not just one. – Damages to the car were done in rough terrain, with the body hiiting the ground, possibly offroad, and lots of testing equipment on board. Those tests simulate wear and tear over hundreds of thousands of kilometers in a short period of time by going over the limit in all means. – Sixt is a billion dollar company (largest rental car company in Germany), but for special vehicles they often approach subcontractors of private people, in order to streamline their fleet (that way they can also offer luxury sports cars, like. e.g. Ferrari) – Daimler did not even bother to try to hide it, as multiple screws were missing, plastic clips broken off, and residual adhesive tape all over the car. A very botched quick and dirty reassembly. – AFAIK Daimler did not pay a cent, but Sixt compensated the couple somewhat for damages that were assesed by an insurance claims guy, but possibly not for lost warranty and long term damage that can not be assesed without diasassembly again. – Daimler wanted to do this in secrecy (despite the botched reassemly), but got caught, as the owner used… Read more »

Just a remark from Tesla Motors forum: The owners claimed damages of almost 100 k € (according to the third party insurance guy’s assessment), but got only 20 k from Sixt. They are now fearing to enter a legal battle with Daimler, as they can’t afford the lawyer fees (upfront in Germany) and don’t have the money to risk a years long court battle with big corporate.

“They are now fearing to enter a legal battle with Daimler, as they can’t afford the lawyer fees (upfront in Germany) and don’t have the money to risk a years long court battle with big corporate.”

If it is slam dunk case, then they should go to court.

Also, I seriously doubt that $100K Model X owner doesn’t have the cash for lawyers on an “easily won” case…

Here’s the details from the Jalopnik article:

Model X: a Spain Oddity.

Thanks for the in-depth report.
I wonder if the car starting singing Daisy as they took it apart.

In the United States it would be insurance fraud since it was not an accident.

The whole thing reminds me of one scene from the MTV series “Jacka..” (or was it one of their movies?).
In this scene, the actors rented a car from Alamo (or Hertz or whatever), and took it to a stock car derby, before returning it completely wrecked to see the expression of the rental car guy…

There would be a good reason why Damiler would take that route, instead of trying to buy a car. There is no chance that Tesla can track the car remotely and know it’s being tested.

I don’t think that follows. How would renting the car vs. buying it make it any harder for Tesla to track the car?

The usual method of an auto maker buying a rival’s car to disassemble and examine it, and possibly to reverse engineer it, is to buy the car thru a third party. If Daimler did what it’s accused of — and personally I’m a True Believer in the principle of “Presumed innocent until proven guilty”, so as far as I’m concerned this is just a rumor — if this rumor is true, then it was willing to make itself a douchebag just to save a bit of money. I’m shocked that any major auto maker would risk such a hit to its public reputation just to save a few tens of thousands of dollars. Also shocked that they were so careless and stupid about not hiding what they did.

I wonder to what extent the (judging by the facts as related here) outstanding stupidity of Daimler might have been driven by internal bureaucracy and infighting. Perhaps a (maybe not very powerful) internal division felt compelled to use “creativity” to get the test vehicle they needed, when they needed it, because they were denied either the budget or the authority they would have required to do it on the up-and-up. It’s easy to think of huge companies as highly organized monolithic entities whereas they’re often (always?) better modeled as loose federations of barely-cooperating petty fiefdoms. Many of their failings can be understood in this light.

Also, I wonder how much telemetry Tesla gathered from the vehicle and what insights it might have given *them*?

I was thinking along the same lines…Perhaps corporate has a policy against purchasing competitor vehicles but this as a rental flew under the radar…

Who’s going to be the first rental company to mandate every vehicle will have an interior camera installed?

Rent your car, reap the consequences.

So Daimler did some standart tests and the Tesla fell apart? This could be a reason http://www.autonews.com/article/20171129/OEM05/171129725/speed-hurts-tesla-quality-workers-say

Ha ha, Jack. I guess good FUD is hard to come by these days.

This was clearly hard core endurance testing, not just some “let’s see how fast and far we can drive on a normal road”. Though endurance tests are a “standard procedure” during reverse engineering or internal testing of pre-series production vehicles, the test vehicle is usally scrapped afterwards or donated for rescue exercises, as it has endured abuse and stress pretty similar to a whole normal vehicle lifetime.

Boggles the mind. German auto manufacturers seem to be stuck in the golden ages of Hitler. First you got VW and Diesel Gate, thinking they can get away with falsehood emissions. Now we have MB using stupid tactics to check out the Tesla (if it’s even a true story). What would they actually learn that we don’t all know from thousands of online videos, Tesla open patents and the fact they have more money they could just do it in an honest way rather than ruin someone’s vehicle and potential get bad press (which has happened).
So is their EQ brand real? If they are only now pulling this stunt that tells me they are a long way behind where they seem to be telling us they are. I sort of don’t believe this story the more I think about it, and of true then I would never be interested to buy a vehicle from such an obviously dishonest company.

Strange, nothing about that the German authorities are investigating against Tesla because of cheating concerning the German EV incentitive. Currently no German EV incentitive is possible for Teslas (only Model S was listed).
Seems like some people reported that they didn’t get the base Model S (which was created to be below the price limit because the incentitive will have nearly no effect concerning too expensive cars like BMW i8) -> just with comfort package for the base price or they were called and had to change the order.



Sorry, Nothing….we are bashing Daimler right now. Come back later.

This story sounds too good to be true; I don’t believe it.

Too much ‘whisper down the alley’ for me.

Bad behavior from a car company, what’s next, girl scouts selling cookies?

“UPDATE [12:44 a.m.]: A Daimler representative declined to comment on this particular rented Tesla when Jalopnik reached out to the company for comment on this story, and also reiterated that renting test cars is a standard practice in the industry:

· Renting vehicles for comparison purposes is a common procedure in the automotive industry
· In case the rental vehicles are damaged in the course of the rental period, the normal insurance procedure is started and a claim settlement is made”

I can’t believe this! How is it that no one sued the yet? No insurance will cover the costs from this test that happen down the road due to this abuse.

Based on on the Jalopnik article, it sounds like the German legal system makes it too difficult/risky for an individual to sue a large corporation there.

In cas you missed it, they just made it harder here in US too. Land of the free…corporations.

As long as they cover the damage I really don’t see the problem.

It still wouldn’t be very classy, but sure. However, that condition is not met — see @Some Guy’s comment above where they say the owners claim around €100k worth of damage but have only been paid €20k by Sixt (or Sixt’s insurer).

As for whether the owners are accurate in their assessment of the damages, I don’t know. I sure wouldn’t be happy with €20k back if the description of the vehicle’s treatment is accurate. Then again I probably wouldn’t be renting my vehicle out to begin with. Not eager to rent my house out as an AirBNB for similar reasons.

The cited sources report that they have paid NOTHING, the rental company has kicked in roughly $20K…

That is like saying that as long as a thief covers damages, there is no problem. This approach has several problems:

* vehicle was damaged far more than agreed upon (normal rental vs stress test+disassembly)
* such behavior could be unnoticed
* it only covers the price of damage

Basically if you only have to pay the damage you cause when you get caught, you are incentivized to do it again.

Personally, I believe there is something seriously rotten in Daimler. In these large corporations, nothing is decided by individuals, everything is run by a committee or general consensus. Yet this and Street Scooter happened. It indicates very weak internal controls.

What kind of metting was this decided in? Probably similar one where VW decided to cheat on emissions.

“As long as they cover the damage I really don’t see the problem.”

If — again, if — the claim made by the newspaper is true, which certainly has not been proven as established fact, then the only way to “cover the damage” described here is to replace the car, period. Anything less is just Daimler trying to cheap out. Subjecting a car to accelerated stress tests means, basically, wearing out the car, or at least parts of it. That sort of damage isn’t going to show up in a normal insurance claim inspection.

How exactly do you quantify the damage caused by this test? Fixing a dent here and there is fine but how about the suspension that may break down next month due to this beating? How many other components got their life cut in half due to this abuse? You should work for an insurance company…they will love you.

Sounds weird to me. I’ve been to several car factories over the years – and in the developement area, they have bunch of competing cars. The cost of 10-15 cars from competitors are just peanuts compared to the development costs. Just a single stamping die can cost more then several cars.. In cases where they see one single car model as the main competitor – they may have almost 10 of that model alone. They pick some apart, they torture some, crash test some, twist others and some are exposed to a “lifelong” test in just a few month. I find it hard that any car company that sells more then 1000 cars will rent a vehicle for testing. I spoke to a person at a company, what they did with two test cars that looked perfectly fine after some testing. He said the cars was always scrapped, since they were basically FUBAR underneath the shiny paintwork. He then walked to one of the Mazdas (Mazda 6 btw) and gave it a sideways push, and it bounced and at the same time squeeked and rattled. It had been a week on a normal torture test track, doing safe and slow… Read more »

Like a few others have stated, perhaps the company forbids this yet the current engineers came from other companies who found a loophole to make a teardown happen. This IEV article misses a lot of the reported details which misses things like there were screw holes left for the testing equipment…Question is why? It would appear that the teardown team thought it was their car…

Now the next question is the timing, Tesla has been delivering Model X for over two years, why now?

Most likely scenario, team was currently developing or has developed a midsized SUV EV and wanted to benchmark theirs to Model X…

“Now the next question is the timing, Tesla has been delivering Model X for over two years, why now?”

Yes, there seem to be multiple solid logical reasons to doubt this report. I won’t be at all surprised if further investigation shows it to be just another B.S. rumor.

So much for the CaaS concept (such buzzword meaning car-as-a-service) :/

We’re the 1%!!

The Jerry Seinfeld approach to rental cars. Smart!

FF to near the end.


Well, I note this is just a claim by one news source, and not established fact.

But if, if this is true, then what a douchebag move on the part of Daimler! 🙁

Did you see the response from Daimler to Jalopnik in the comments above?

that family needs to sue both sixt and daimler for this. At the very least, daimler needs to buy that family a new vehicle, but I would also push for legal, personal time, etc.

This was total BS.

I guess I won’t feel bad when I test drive a Mercedes AMG and get it air-born with the motor bouncing off the rev limiter, Ferris Bueller style.

Everything is apparently fair game as long as insurance takes care of any damage you can document, right Mercedes?

In the 60’s when the Hertz Rent-A-Car company commissioned the Shelby GT350-H Mustang, some were known to have been rented, a rollbar welded in for racing, then cut back out and the car returned.

I know Tesla promotes a rental type concept for a way that helps customers pay for their car, but I wouldn’t participate. I don’t think this is good business, either. Shame on Daimler.

Nothing in the story makes sense as-is.
Sixt, a large international rental company, doesn’t deal with renting out privately owned cars.
Rental contracts forbid racing & any non-standard use (e.g., disassembly).

The Jalopnik article someone cited above has a little more info, as do other comments here. It seems unsurprising that Sixt (or any other company renting exotic cars) might use a subcontractor rather than maintaining their own fleet of exotics. As for the rental contract… yes, that and more. E.g. the contract evidently restricted the geography the car could be taken to and that term was breached as well. So if the facts presented are true, Daimler was in breach of contract. I’m not sure how you get from “breach of contract” to “does not compute”.