I want you to look for other opportunities with Tesla---Diamler executive told his guys.

I want you to look for other opportunities with Tesla---Diamler executive told his guys.

Drive train for C/E/S classes? Sharing of Superchargers? A lot of new business opportunities there for Tesla.

I'm sure they see the merit of EV even more now. Toyota seems to be a little stupid wanting to go the fuel cell route instead of taking advantage of what Tesla could offer.

Gizmotoy | October 31, 2013

Toyota's looking for a competitive advantage. They're already the top of the hybrid car foodchain. Fuel Cells = big credits and dollars in CA, so they're exploring that route. They're also working with Tesla on pure EVs with the RAV 4.

Sounds like they're doing OK to me.

Mathew98 | October 31, 2013

Thanks MB. This news surely help my weekly 160 calls...

carlk | October 31, 2013

@Mathew98 You'll do fine. The stock price usually starts to rise a few days before earning.

@Gizmotoy Toyota's CEO did say fuel cell is the future and BEV will not work.

David70 | October 31, 2013

Fuel cells may be the future, but if so, only the distant future.

jeffpoel | October 31, 2013

If the Daimler guy is very astute, he knows that his cars are obsolete and he and his oil based compadres have screwed the pooch. Benz, BMW, Audi, GM - their names will all be synonyms for Edsel and Studebaker in the Wikipedia of the future.

Gizmotoy | October 31, 2013

@carlk: And Tesla's CEO says batteries are the future and fuel cells will not work. Your point? Having cars in every category, Toyota is well-situated to take advantage of whatever propulsion technology takes hold. Not exactly what I'd call stupid.

carlk | October 31, 2013

My point is he is blind if he did not see what Tesla has achieved when he said BEV has no future. Sure there are still challenges for BEV but people do not even know what are the challenges for FC cars yet from H2 generation and storage to safety, not to mention the real cost structure of the system. It needs a whole new infrastructure while the electric grid is already here. BTW the so called FC car is still hybrid because it needs to have lithium battery to store regenerative energy anyway.

jk2014 | October 31, 2013

Fuel cell vehicles, will be "compliance" vehicles. They make more sense as a tax credit/break and green cred marketing ploy then an actual mass consumer product effort. Lots of fuel cell infrastructure problems that would take at least a decade to remedy to even come close to being relevant in the market place. Car companies don't have the time or money to dedicate to it so, best to just make the minimum number of cars to get the tax incentive. Also, better they sell the ZEV credits as opposed to having to buy them from Tesla. ZEVs have proven to be good revenue and the majors want a piece of that action.

Fuel cells are not a commercially viable alternative to battery energy storage tech for consumers in the near to long term...

Gizmotoy | October 31, 2013

@carlk: You make the mistake of assuming what the CEO says publicly for the good of his company is the same thing he thinks and acts on privately. As jk2014 says, if they hype FCVs up and sell a few, they get substantially more ZEV credits than Tesla will for their BEVs. That can mean big money.

It's just like investing. If you're unsure of the outcome, you can hedge your bet. Now imagine someone is going to pay you to hedge your bet, and if the hedge pays off you're the market leader. You smile and you graciously take their money.

carlk | October 31, 2013

@Gizmotoy I totally agree. That's why I said his statement about BEV has no future is a little stupid unless he believes all his audiences are fools.

mdtaylor69 | October 31, 2013

Fuel cells were invented in 1838, and were a technology of the future and always will be. Spent 3 years at a fuel cell startup that pulled a Fiskar because the product didn't last longer than 3 months.

shs | October 31, 2013

Right now fuel cells are largely promoted by the fossil fuel industry as today most hydrogen (the most common fuel in fuel cells) is made from hydrocarbons. If hydrogen is made from water by electrolysis, it adds another energy inefficient step to the already energy inefficient energy storage of the fuel cells themselves. On the Wikipedia page for the Hydrogen Economy is states that fuel cell-based vehicles are a factor of 3 or 4 less efficient that battery powered electric vehicles.

I think that the main reason why big auto is supporting fuel cells is that, at least originally it allowed them to game the CARB rating system and get 7 points per vehicle compared to 4 for a BEV, because, at least theoretically, hydrogen could be refilled in a matter of minutes. Now that Tesla has demonstrated battery swapping, they are also getting 7 points per car. I think that CARB is concerned that the fast refill points are being gamed and may well eliminate those points. I think that would be best for all.

Gizmotoy | October 31, 2013

@shs: CARB had a meeting a few weeks ago on whether or not to strip battery swaps as qualifying for the fast refill credits. No official decision announced, as far as I know.

FCVs may be seen as a quick way to the maximum number of credits (300+ mile range & fast fill, if I recall correctly).

shs | October 31, 2013


I believe that CARB, at their meeting a few days ago, decided to not change the points at that time. The financial press was reporting that Tesla might be stripped of some of it credits as CARB might either question the battery swap demo that allowed Tesla to claim 7 points, or simply eliminate the fast refill points all together. Although this was seen as negative for Tesla, I think that if the fast refill points were eliminated it would greatly help BEVs and Tesla, and be another nail in the fuel cell coffin. In 2009 the Obama admin announced that it was cutting funding for fuel cells. That should have been a clue.

carlk | October 31, 2013

I'm sure the fast refill credit came from some special interest lobbyists because it does not make any environmental sense. It makes no difference how long the refill takes long as people are buying the ZEV car.

Captain_Zap | October 31, 2013


My understanding is that the proposal that was tabled for a year said that BEV's wouldn't get the fast fuel credit by using swaps but they could with a fast charge. Also, it looked like they were going to keep the fast fuel criteria for fuel cells.

Captain_Zap | October 31, 2013

Addition to comment:

The were also going to have the automakers demonstrate that consumers were actually using the fast fuel tech.

shs | October 31, 2013

For me, and most others I believe, charge at home is more important that fast fuel.

Car t man | October 31, 2013

Fast charging taps into making EVs viable to average consumers. As such, it is an important factor in EV proliferation rates. If there are incentives for cars, to make them sell faster, same should be for fast chargers and chargers.

To most of us here, the concept of home charging is OK, but to an average consumer that does not suffice. Either factually or simply psychologically.

shs | October 31, 2013

I think the average consumer thinks that they need fast charge because they have always had to pump gas while standing beside the car and never been able to fill their tank at home. Since most people, most of the time, drive far less than the range of the model S on a daily basis, charging at home is the big time saver, the convenience of which people just don't realize because they never have experienced anything like it. For road trips the number of SC is perhaps more important than the time to charge since one can eat, or whatever, while charging.

djm12 | October 31, 2013

Fool cells are the future...of some LSD-inspired dreaming.

Car t man | October 31, 2013


we here all know that but the average consumer won't make the homework
on finding all that out and will react based on current habits and
thinking patterns. It is why I mentioned that it has to be done, even
if only for psychological reasons for many.

Car t man | October 31, 2013


fuell cell describes a much wider array of energy storage solutions than just a hydrogen fuel cell. Air zinc "batteries" and many other such technologies are
actually fuel cells. Some of them work well on some levels, beating battery
technologies in cost/storage etc.

While the hydrogen fuel cell currently certainly is a sucker's goal, fuel cells in general (other than hydrogen fuel cells) have extreme and accessible potential. Being able to "breathe" and use ambient air as reactant, as zinc air "batteries" can, as opposed to having to carry all elements inside own package, is a major major advantage.

CalDreamin | October 31, 2013

More cooperation between Daimler and Tesla might mean Tesla having access to the electronic driving assists and luxury features in the new S-Class. That would be a win for Tesla, Daimler is a leader in that space.

Captain_Zap | October 31, 2013

We already have those awesome Mercedes turn signals and the cruise control stalk.
(Actually, I think that those are my least favorite part of my car.)

appljd | October 31, 2013

+1 Captain_Zap

Jai S | October 31, 2013

Would be great if Mercedes designed a C/E/S class that could be powered by the Tesla Model S skateboard platform or upcoming Gen 3 platform......that would be a win for sure for both companies.

negarholger | October 31, 2013

At least someone is not sleeping on the job at Daimler...

If I were Daimler I would go bold - just copy the MS ( that is always the cheapest way to get started on a new technology )... get the main components from Tesla, make an exact copy of the chassis and put a slightly different body on it similar to the E class ( that's where the main customers seem to come from ), get a deal on super charger access and negotiate for about 5K cars for next 2-4 years in Europe. Cars could be serviced by Mercedes dealers with Tesla service backup for the drive train. At first glance that doesn't seem to be a good deal for Tesla because it would limit production even more. However it would be a huge ratification for the Tesla technology and boost the Tesla image. Long term you could even think of building the European version of the MS in a Daimler assisted factory. Make a commercial version of a mini super charger ( ~45 kW )for e.g. Taxi businesses. Endless possibilities...
I don't think Model X will sell too well in Europe ( SUVs are an american thing ), but the electric E class even with only a station wagon option could fill that gap nicely. If I was trying to get a taxi at the Frankfurt airport and the electric E class was three cars down the line I would wait for it instead of sitting in one of these noisy stinking Diesel transport things.

GerardF | November 1, 2013

Remember Eon's remark in Munich that 'other 135 kW capable cars' could get licensed to use the Superchargers. Sounds like a Tesla power train in a German car possibly to me.


Car t man | November 1, 2013

CalDreamin is correct.

The 135kw remark is tied to 135kw superchargers (the kind going up in Europe), which would be made available to other manufacturers which would enter into an agreement with Tesla. Either pay, fork over a license for a tech Tesla would be using, etc.

You need to understand that in car industry, no one company is really revolutionary. Even Tesla. The chassis uses known solutions, it uses
MB's air suspension, Range Rover's (told so by my engineering friend)
electric steering and it was actually Mercedes which designed it's
A class as an electric car, which had plans to have batteries in its
floor. It also had the AC drive train (Mercedes must have misplaced
this knowledge somehow to be this reliant on Tesla or is using Tesla's
as a marketing ploy).

To be honest, I think Mercedes engineers are probably grinding their teeth and the financial manager at Mercedes probably made that statement to appear pragmatical ans smart. Yes, it actually makes sense but auto
companies, especially before the crisis, don't behave rationally, if
prestige or luxury is involved. Germans spent years and loads of money to develop their own hybrid systems just because they didn't want to license Toyota's which was equivalent and available years sooner.

So sometimes they act based on "prestige" and sometimes they are incredibly
pragmatic. Hard to see consistency in it.

I do know that at Mercedes they are not happy about missing the train and seeing Tesla go so far in such a short time among the luxury car buyers.
Yes they own those 4% stock in Tesla but still.

And I would bet you that engineers at Porsche or Mercedes aren't impressed by the technology in a Tesla. They are impressed and interested in Tesla as a whole car and how good it is. The tech was available to them over a decade ago. The battery chemistry was not as polished but the drive train and battery placement, using small laptop cells, this was all pre-Tesla stuff. You need to understand the difference between users and engineers. For car engineers, this isn't really new. It simply wasn't on the list of
the to do things managements gave them or was taken off those lists.

The financial manager is basically shaming top Mercedes engineers. To a degree that is OK but it isn't the engineers that are lame, it was the
management which did not let them go further with electric cars when
they were prepared to go electric with the A as the first electric car for Mercedes. They then began wasting time with hydrogen as the power source for the A electric prototype and all the usual crap that killed the project.

Because of it, Tesla now has a car that is better than anything Mercedes offers because Mercedes engineers were told to stay in the 19th century in
terms of drive train tech.

Brian H | November 2, 2013

Car t;
Do you have sources? Don't need to see them, but you're talking like someone with inside personal knowledge, almost.


Benz | November 2, 2013

Well, as time goes by, Tesla Motors will make more and more progress in achieving it's goal. Sooner or later, Daimler will do more business with Tesla Motors. That's inevitable.

Car t man | November 2, 2013


Yes, sources. The car was designed to have batteries in floor, which is why it was rolling over in moose tests with ICEs. The low center of gravity was no longer there. They used the same guy for the drive train who did the first drive trains for EV1, Think, FIAT and other projects. That knowledge then went into everything AC you see today. Whether it is car makers, Siemens, Bosch, etc. Many today don't even know where it came from. Mercedes then used an AC powered A class (it never went into production as an electric car) in 2003 as a hydrogen powered car (F cell). Few prototypes.

So the Merc A class was an AC car with floor mounted batteries. Had it gone on sale in 1997, you can imagine than by now, an S class with that arrangement would be a classic. Same goes for other makers which buried electric cars.

If it wasn't for Chinese (who have no intention on being oil reliant or allow such lobbies to steer them) and Tesla, they would happily still ignore
electric cars.

Al1 | November 2, 2013

"We are a late comer" to the small premium segment, he said, but "we need compact cars to get a broader, younger customer base."

They're trying to expand their customer base, yet without cannibalizing sales of their premium cars.

BMW is sort of playing the same game, but from a different angle.

This is quite an old problem for both, but especially for Mercedes. Buyers of expensive cars are usually elder people. So as new generations grow and get wealthier there is imminent risk of having customer base shrinking. That's what happened to Cadillac a while ago.

Now with economic crisis in Europe and Tesla also snapping wealthiest segment among the younger, there is no choice, but come up with something like expanding customer base to allocate fixed costs. But still preserving profit margins for high end cars.

So far the responses are sort of awkward. Both BMW and Mercedes use name of Tesla a lot but in slightly different contest. Yet, so far none will even try to follow Model S lead. They will try to cover niches to reduce/mitigate their risks, but their main goal is to try to extend lives of their ICE cars.

Car t man | November 2, 2013

It shows that this financial manager doesn't know much about what Mercedes was doing before he came in. Likely current engineers might not either. The A class came to market in 1997 and was introduced initially in 1993. It was the definition of small premium so what he said is just terrible lack of knowledge about own company.

BMW, for now, seems more like a compliance car and brand participant. Going with abstract designs, since the M department could probably shame its entire ICE history with a single AC drive train in an M3 or an M5.

Tesla did it instead.

Benz | November 2, 2013

@Car t man

I never knew that the first model of the A-Class actually was meant to be electric in the first place. At least I have never heard anyone talk about it. But what you say does make sense. How did you get this info, if I may ask?

Sudre_ | November 2, 2013

I guess Mercedes kept it really secret because I can't find anything about the A-Class being designed to be electric. It makes sense because of the CA requirements back then but I would have thought Mercedes would have said something about it like the other manufacturers that worked on electrics back then.

Obviously several manufacturers had electric steering options, HVAC and other stuff because they were building EVs. The EV1 was not the only EV sold in California. I thought everyone here was pretty sure that Tesla was not the inventor of the electric car, just the company that put it all together in a package that sells and has a temperature controlled battery pack.

Car t man | November 3, 2013

I dragged it out of the gentleman who designed the AC inverters. I have been trying to get him to convert an Aston Martin DB9 but is busy with more
important stuff. Very nice and smart guy but never spills any info unless you drill it out of him. I was warned about it so I came in drilling. About what he's worked on, which were the early AC drive train projects he was tapped for, why he chose AC instead of DC, if its true about zinc air batteries (supposedly he made first ones and equipped buses and trucks in 1990ies)..

He only told me some of the stuff I already knew to ask him about. About EV1, Mercedes, FIAT, Think and Ford gobbling up Think and having AC drive trains in the rangers, etc. then.. The A class was being prepped by him also.

He first made AC inverters for the industry in about 1985 or smth like that, won prizes, visits and invitations by delegations, companies and universities from all over but never patented any of it. The entire global industry now uses those and everything based on those. He made a lot of money but would have been among the wealthiest people on the planet if he did.

In 1989 made a small FIAT with an AC drive train (he makes motors and inverters) and in 1992 he had a Renault at Geneva car show, where the global manufacturers came to know the tech and basically tapped him for everything electric. Car makers and industry giants all ordered his motors, inverters, etc.. Bosch, Siemens and the likes.

Of the car makers, the EV1 program was the first one, from many many others. Then they all buried it. He's really happy about Tesla and Fisker (obviously was when I spoke with him but Fisker since went under). I had to ask if he ever wishes he patented anything and he said not really. He would have had he known that his lead would be cut off by killing the projects for 15 years. He battled with cancer and won and says priorities and views change with that.

When he was doing it, he was so far ahead, there was no need to protect anything. But when the industry shuts it down for 15 years, others can catch up. He had to innovate and invent in all fields since none of what was necessary really existed.

Oh, this was a kicker. He stems from the same village as Nikola Tesla and his grandfather was baptized by Tesla's father. Families had close ties..

This reminds me that I need to check if he finally has the time for the Aston conversion.

Benz | November 3, 2013

@Car t man

Interesting story.

Brian H | November 3, 2013

Nikola's Neighbour!

Car t man | November 3, 2013

Something in the water in that village.

I found it interesting when he said that he knows exactly how Elon felt in 2008 and 2009 when seeing The revenge of the electric car. That it shows a lot of what he went through in the initial global EV push. That it must have disassembled him to pieces at many points. For him it was an intended burial of EVs. For Tesla it was the economy crashing and burning...