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Daimler unplugs Tesla stake

B for battery: The Mercedes B-Class Electric Drive uses technology developed jointly by Tesla and Daimler.

Mercedes pledges to continue EV partnership with Tesla, despite dumping shares

23 Oct 2014

UPDATED: 26/10/2014GERMANY’S Daimler has sold its four per cent stake in American electric car-maker Tesla, but says their engineering partnership will continue.

The deal means a $US780 million ($A890m) windfall for Daimler’s war chest, to be spent on strengthening the company’s operational business.

Daimler chairman and head of Mercedes-Benz cars Dieter Zetsche said that even though the joint Tesla-Mercedes development of the new Mercedes B-Class Electric Drive was completed, the “very successful” relationship with Tesla would continue.

“In Tesla we do have a bold partner,” he said. “Together we launched the B-Class Electric Drive successfully in the United States this summer.

“In November, the B-Class Electric Drive will be launched in Europe as well.

“We are convinced that this powerful electric vehicle for everyday use will appeal to a lot of customers.”

Daimler finance board member Bodo Uebber said the company was satisfied with its investment in Tesla, but the equity arrangement was not necessary for the partnership.

“For this reason, we have decided to divest of our shares,” he said. “This will also allow Tesla to broaden its investor base.”

 center image Left: Daimler chairman and head of Mercedes-Benz cars Dieter Zetsche.Daimler initially acquired a 9.1 per cent stake in Tesla in May 2009. Two months later, 40 per cent of that investment was transferred to Abu Dhabi-based Aabar Investments PJSC as part of a joint venture.

Over the years, Tesla has issued more shares, reducing Daimler’s stake to about four per cent.

Apart from the new electric B-Class, Daimler produces a wide range of electric, hybrid and fuel-cell vehicles.

It claims it has sold more hybrid vehicles so far this year than all of its German rivals combined.

“The focus will continue to be on plug-in hybrids in the coming years,” the company said.

“By the year 2017, Mercedes-Benz Cars will launch 10 new plug-in hybrid models in all market segments.”

Meanwhile, Japanese giant Toyota also confirmed late last week that it had unloaded some of its shares in Tesla, however it did not disclose the size of the sale.

A Toyota spokesperson told the Wall Street Journal that the sale came “as part of our process of regularly reviewing our investment portfolio”.

The statement went on to say that Toyota has “a good relationship with Tesla, and will evaluate the feasibility of working together on future projects”.

Back in 2010, Toyota injected $US50 million into the then-new electric-vehicle manufacturer for a 2.4 per cent stake that was valued at about $US690 million.

While Toyota and Tesla are yet to confirm the reason for the sale, Bloomberg is reporting that it relates to the jointly developed RAV4 EV that is offered in previous-generation guise in the United States that winds up production soon.

While Tesla will continue to develop EV technology, Toyota is moving towards hydrogen fuel-cell power, a technology that has been publicly ridiculed by Tesla co-founder Elon Musk.

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