Is Tesla’s fate now in Mercedes’ hands?

The Model S: Stick the Mercedes logo on it and call it good?

The Model S: Stick the Mercedes logo on it and call it good?

Maybe Tesla will be able to deliver at least 10 percent of the 1,000 Model S cars that have already been ordered.

That’s because Daimler, owner of Mercedes-Benz and smart, has purchased a 10 percent stake in Tesla Motors. The two companies already work together to produce the battery packs and charging systems for Daimler’s electric smart car.

It’s no secret that Tesla Motors is in desperate need of cash and has needed an infusion of it from somewhere. While Daimler’s new stake won’t save Tesla, it will keep the company alive and in a better position to receive the $450 million loan it needs from the Department of Energy to deliver on those 1,000 Model S orders.

The Model S, unveiled in March, is Tesla’s second production vehicle. The coupe-styled sedan holds a world of promise, with up to a 300-mile range, zero-to-60 in under 6 seconds, no emissions, and a sub-$50,000 pricetag. 

Whether the company delivers on those promises remains to be seen. I have a feeling, though, that Daimler’s interest doesn’t lie in the success of Tesla as an automaker.

Dr. Thomas Weber, a member of Daimler’s board of directors, said,

Our strategic partnership is an important step to accelerate the commercialization of electric drives globally.

Oh, please! He might as well have just come out and said, “We want to turn Tesla into a supplier of electric drives and batteries so we don’t have to develop them ourselves.”

Who knows, maybe Tesla will snag that half-billion-dollar loan it needs and shock the world by finally producing and delivering reliable and fairly affordable electric cars. If Tesla’s done one thing, it’s proved that there’s a market for them.

Or perhaps Daimler’s interest in Tesla will eventually translate into a new and only way to get Tesla’s electric drivetrain: buy a Mercedes.

Do you think Tesla will give up the dream of becoming a viable automaker and become a supplier instead?

-tgriffith

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