They parted ways back in 2014, but could they again find common ground?
Not everyone may be aware of this, but there was a time when Daimler-Benz, parent company of Mercedes-Benz, owned shares in Tesla. In fact, there are still traces of the German automaker in the Tesla Model S. For example, the switches controlling the electric power windows come from the 2010-2016 E-Class while the turn signal stalk is sourced from a 2008-2014 C-Class. This arrangement between the two automakers began in 2010 and lasted until 2014 when Daimler sold its 4 percent stake in the EV automaker.
Why did it sell its shares? Because it wanted to get into the EV business itself and the proof is the all-new Mercedes-Benz EQC, which will compete directly with the Model X.
But according to Reuters, soon to retire Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche won’t rule out a future cooperation deal with Tesla. But wait? How can Zetsche say that if he’s set to retire next May? That’s what we’re wondering, but his words do offer some clues into what Daimler executives are saying behind closed doors.
Zetsche initially made his comments to a Polish newspaper in response to a hypothetical question he was asked at the Paris Motor Show last month. Zetsche told the publication he “never regretted (selling Tesla shares). This does not exclude a cooperation in the future.” However, Zetsche also confirmed he saw no immediate reason why it’d be necessary to buy back those shares.
Aside from providing various components for Tesla, what else could Daimler offer its American competitor? Or, alternatively, what could Tesla offer Daimler?
The truth could potentially be mutual assistance by way of a charging infrastructure. Remember, Tesla is quite a bit ahead of the competition with its Supercharging network, which expands across the US, many parts of Europe, and China. It’s not that Daimler doesn’t know how to build such a network, but if there’s already one in place, why not make use of it as a way of saving money?
However, Daimler entered into an agreement last year with Ford, BMW, and VW Group to build fast-charging stations across Europe. While this has yet to fully materialize, Tesla and its proven capability of getting a charging network up and running could become useful to Daimler once again.