Mercedes-Benz has sold off its remaining stake in motor industry disrupter Tesla, pocketing around $780m in the process, but insisting that it won’t stop the two companies from collaborating on new and existing electric car projects. The German firm had approximately 4-percent ownership of Tesla remaining, but sold it off having decided that the holding was “not necessary for our partnership and cooperation,” Daimler board member Bodo Uebber said of the sale. Nonetheless, evidence of Tesla’s work can be found throughout models in Mercedes-Benz’s range, from the Smart city car upwards.
For instance, the first-gen Smart ForTwo Electric Drive used Tesla-sourced batteries to pair with its EV powertrain, while the B-class Electric Drive which went on sale in the US earlier this year was built in partnership with Tesla.
The B-class Electric Drive has a range of around 85 miles and a sticker price of $41,150, though tax credits and subsidies can bring that down into the low- to mid-$30k’s. Mercedes plans to launch the car in Europe in the coming summer months.
“Our partnership with Tesla is very success and will be continued,” Dr. Dieter Zetsche, head of Mercedes-Benz Cars, said this week.
Mercedes started out with a 9.1-percent stake in Tesla back in May 2009, though through a combination of transferring off some of that holding, and the EV firm’s own capital increases, the German company was left with around 4-percent. In the meantime, its spread its electric collaboration, working with BMW for instance on potential wireless car charging systems that could allow drivers to refuel simply by parking in a certain spot.
Pure electric drive isn’t the only strategy Mercedes is looking to, however. By the 2017, the company says, it will launch ten new plug-in hybrid models.
The company has also been developing “Autopilot” systems which will allow its cars to automatically change lanes, track the speed of surrounding traffic, and monitor road signage for speed limits. Similar features are already available on Mercedes’ latest S-Class.