Yesterday Daimler AG announced it has reorganized its cooperation with Tesla Motors Inc.
In doing so, the German automaker terminated the share-price hedge it initiated in 2013 and has sold its approximately 4-percent stake in Tesla.
Daimler explained it initially acquired a 9.1 percent interest in Tesla in May 2009 for an estimated $50 million. Forty percent of that investment was transferred to Aabar Investments PJSC in the context of a joint strategic project in July 2009. Tesla has been listed on the stock exchange since the end of June 2010. As a result of capital increases at Tesla, Daimler’s stake in the company decreased to around 4 percent, without affecting the two companies’ strategic cooperation or joint development projects.
The cooperation between the partners on the automotive projects is unaffected, said Daimler, adding even though the development work for the Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive is completed, the partnership with Tesla remains in place.
“We pursue our strategy for emission-free driving consequently. Electric vehicles are one component of this roadmap. In Tesla we do have a bold partner. 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 every day use will appeal to a lot of customers,” stated Dr. Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars. “Our partnership with Tesla is very successful and will be continued.”
The B-Class Electric Drive is not the only Daimler vehicle to benefit from Tesla’s cooperation. The batteries for the first generation of the smart fortwo electric drive had been from Tesla; this two-seater with electric drive is one of the best-selling electric cars in Germany.
“We are extremely satisfied with the development of our investment in Tesla, but it is not necessary for our partnership and cooperation,” said Bodo Uebber, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG for Finance & Controlling and Financial Services. “For this reason, we have decided to divest of our shares. This will also allow Tesla to broaden its investor base.”
The sale of Daimler’s stake in Tesla will result in a cash inflow of around $780 million, which will be used to strengthen Daimler’s operational business, said the German company.
This sure looks like an interesting profit considering the original $50 million invested.
“We have supported Tesla as a startup company for many years and have learned a lot from Tesla. At the same time, Tesla was able to profit from our automotive expertise. The cooperation with Tesla is one component of our activities in the field of electric mobility. It optimally complements our involvement in Deutsche ACCUmotive,” said Prof. Dr. Thomas Weber, member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG for Group Research & Mercedes-Benz Cars Development.
Daimler currently offers electric vehicles ranging from cars and vans to buses and light trucks: smart electric drive, Mercedes-Benz A-Class E-CELL, B-Class Electric Drive, B-Class F-CELL, SLS AMG Coupe Electric Drive, Vito E-CELL, Mercedes-Benz Citaro FuelCELL-Hybrid, Fuso Canter E-CELL and Freightliner Custom Chassis MT E-CELL All-Electric.
Daimler added systematic hybridization is also a fixed element of Daimler’s powertrain strategy. In 2014, Mercedes-Benz sold more automobiles with hybrid drive than all other German manufacturers combined. The focus for Daimler will continue to be on plug-in hybrids in the coming years, said the company.
By the year 2017, Mercedes-Benz Cars will launch 10 new plug-in hybrid models in all market segments.
Both Daimler and Toyota’s investments in the early years of Tesla were key in helping this EV manufacturer become the strong automaker it is today. Toyota’s investment was also an estimated $50 million and was invested in 2010. Toyota still holds a 2.4 percent stake in Tesla with an indicated value of $692 million.