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Tesla lands Daimler deal

Bright spark: Tesla has sold 100 of its electric-powered Roadsters.

Tesla seals Smart battery supply deal and gears up for Roadster production

Tesla logo16 Jan 2009

By CHRIS HARRIS

ELECTRIC sports car maker Tesla was a late addition to the Detroit show, but it provided big news by announcing that it would supply battery technology for Daimler’s electric Smart city car.

Tesla will supply the battery pack and charger for 1000 Smart EVs, which will go on sale in the US in 2010. This could lead to mass production of an electric Smart by 2012.

“If the 1000 vehicle fleet makes sense and the economics are compelling, that will expand to tens of thousands of vehicles per year,” said Tesla founder Elon Musk.

As well as developing its own car – a Roadster model that is based on the Lotus Elise –Tesla is offering its EV technology to other automakers.

Mr Musk detailed the company’s ambitious plans to develop a range of EV models and build a factory in San Jose, California, capable of building 20,000 cars a year.

This would cost $US300-400 million, he said, and would involve production of a new pure EV model, the Tesla S sedan, with a family of different body styles to follow, including a crossover, wagon and minivan.

This is likely to cost around $US50,000 – less than half the $US109,000 roadster – and is said to offer a 350km range on a single charge of its lithium-ion batteries.

However, Mr Musk is looking for government loans to help it proceed with the project.

Mr Musk, the entrepreneur who started Tesla in 2004, is one of the founders of online payment service PayPal.

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