Daimler has just taken a 10% stake in electric car builder Tesla. Tesla is that little car company that could, and possibly also a partner for struggling GM if they ever want to make the Volt or the cars that come after it succeed. However, Tesla has struggled. It took an extra year to find the right transmission for their roadster, something normally not an issue with electric cars. Then again, most electric cars aren’t driven 150 mph. (Unless you’re Al Gore’s son.) On the other hand, them that build Mercedes have been trying to build an electric car since the 1970′s. But who wants a $50,000 golf cart dressed up like an E Series that has to spend 12 out of every 24 hours plugged in. (Pop quiz: Why did GM really abandon the EV1? Answer: How many golf carts do you see in downtown Chicago during rush hour?) Daimler Benz had an opportunity to make it big in this market.
But when they bought out Chrysler, they ran off the Dream Team that put the Detroit automaker back in the game, killed their hybrid program, and ran the company into the ground. Then they sold what was left to a company that’s never built anything to do with cars before. Result?
Benz cars are the laughingstock of German engineering. Chrysler’s hybrids will be designed by Toyota and built by Fiat, and my guess is only the Jeep nameplate will survive the next five years.
Dear Daimler: Try not to screw it up this time.