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Daimler AG has invested a “double-digit million-dollar sum for about a 10 percent stake” in Tesla Motors as part of a new strategic partnership between the German automaker and the Silicon Valley electric sports car startup. Speaking at a press conference in Stuttgart, Germany this morning, […]

elondaimlerDaimler AG has invested a “double-digit million-dollar sum for about a 10 percent stake” in Tesla Motors as part of a new strategic partnership between the German automaker and the Silicon Valley electric sports car startup. Speaking at a press conference in Stuttgart, Germany this morning, Tesla CEO Elon Musk (pictured) and Daimler’s Thomas Weber, who is responsible for group research and Mercedes-Benz cars development, announced that Daimler will use battery packs from Tesla for the electric Smart cars slated to launch commercially in 2012. The companies have also agreed to share expertise for future models, and Daimler will take a seat on Tesla’s board of directors.

Today’s deal does not mean Daimler is abandoning a joint venture with battery maker Evonik, or that Tesla is a shoe-in for supplying the battery packs for other Daimler models. Tesla does not develop or manufacture battery cells in-house, and Musk said today that the company could very well assemble battery packs using controls and cooling systems developed at Tesla, with cells from Evonik subsidiary Li-Tec, in the future. (General Motors is taking a similar approach with the batteries for its Chevy Volt, assembling battery packs with cells from LG Chem.)
When it comes to choosing a cell maker, Musk said, “We are agnostic. We are very interested in using a Li-Tec cell, or Panasonic, Sony, LG — whatever delivers the best product for the customer.”

Weber said that today’s decision regarding the 2012 Smart EV is “completely independent” of decisions for battery packs in other vehicle families. He explained that the primary motivation for today’s deal was to get an electric car on the market as fast as possible.

As for Tesla, Musk said the company wanted to partner with a “senior,” experienced auto company. Many battery makers are seeking similar alliances these days ahead of the deadline for a Department of Energy grant program created as part of the stimulus package, since applicants with committed customers will get a boost in the evaluation process. Although Tesla is pursuing hundreds of millions of dollars in government funds to launch its delayed Model S electric sedan concept into production, Musk said that the company does not need capital “immediately.” In fact, he added, Tesla could have gotten a higher share price from a private investor. But while Tesla has experience with battery packs, he said, “Daimler brings the expertise of everything else.”

  1. [...] announcement here. Earth2Tech coverage here. CNET coverage here. And AP/CP coverage [...]

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  2. [...] the fold before as a way to leapfrog lengthy internal R&D efforts — Daimler, for example, teamed up with Tesla Motors this morning to help get an electric version of its Smart model on the road as soon as possible, [...]

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  3. [...] (WebWorkerDaily) Guerrilla giving, creative contributions and the vitality of open source (OStatic) Tesla, Daimler team up for smart batteries (Earth2Tech) [...]

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  4. [...] wheels and soothe some nerves. That being said, Tesla’s chief executive Elon Musk has been emphatic that the company was not in dire need of outside funds, adding that it could have gotten more from a private investor if it had waited a little [...]

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  5. [...] be shopping around for a battery startup. That is unless it follows Daimler’s strategy: signing up a startup, in their case Tesla Motors, to supply battery pack technology for its first electric offering as a way to get the plug-in [...]

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  6. [...] the company to be profitable. If those were the two criteria, at least one has been achieved: Tesla announced early last week that German automaker Daimler had taken a roughly 10 percent stake in the San Carlos, Calif.-based [...]

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  7. [...] the company to be profitable. If those were the two criteria, at least one has been achieved: Tesla announced early last week that German automaker Daimler had taken a roughly 10 percent stake in the San Carlos, Calif.-based [...]

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  8. [...] Written by Katie Fehrenbacher No Comments Posted May 28th, 2009 at 6:27 pm in Automotive After a bit of good news last week from electric vehicle startup Tesla — German automaker Daimler invested a “double-digit [...]

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  9. [...] if they get DOE grants. Tesla, meanwhile, has revived its battery division, and recently snagged a battery pack supply deal with Daimler. It hopes to get DOE funds to set up manufacturing for its planned Model S sedan. So for now, for [...]

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  10. [...] Tesla Motors (at least based on Friday’s closing stock price for GM and the valuation for Daimler’s recent investment in Tesla), the road to world domination in the cleaner vehicle space will likely be a long [...]

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