Rumor Control: Mercedes (Not GM) Outsources Electric SUV Development. But What About Tesla?

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
rumor control mercedes not gm outsources electric suv development but what about

For all its size and big talk about technical excellence, Daimler doesn’t seem to be doing much of its advanced powertrain R&D itself. News that the firm’s future hybrids will be Toyota-developed is joined by the revelation that Mercedes, not GM, is the mystery OEM which has hired Amp Electric Vehicles to develop an EV SUV prototype. AutoSpies reports that

It seems when Mercedes representatives visited AMP a while back they were so impressed with the [Amp-electrified Chevy Equinox], that they quickly commissioned a ML-350 test mule for further evaluation. Our exclusive spy photos reveal that a previously unregistered 2009 Pearl White ML-350 bearing manufacturer plates has arrived at AMP’s facility and is currently in the process of electrification by their engineers. Upon completion this now all electric ML is slated to undergo testing later in the month.

Which is an interesting turn of events for Daimler’s EV partnership strategy. With a $50m stake in Tesla, one might assume that Daimler would turn to the California firm to electrify its ML. After all, Toyota also has also invested $50m in Tesla as well, and Tesla is electrifying a RAV-4 prototype for Toyota. On the other hand, Daimler has not had much luck with its Tesla-powered Smart EV, so perhaps the Germans are diversifying away from the hype-driven Silicon Valley startup. If so, that’s not a good sign for Tesla or Toyota. Watch this space…

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  • Mercennarius Mercennarius on Sep 16, 2010

    daimlers phasing out Teslas EV tech in favor of Nissans EV technology. This was already talked about on other blogs.

    • See 2 previous
    • Daanii2 Daanii2 on Sep 17, 2010

      Good points. But you say: I know why electric cars are so slow to arrive on the market – the battery is locked up. The NiMH lasts and Chevron controls it. Lithium works better but ages quickly. If we had the past 10-15 years of NiMH batteries on the market maturing we’d probably be going twice the distance on the same charge. Chevron has been out of the battery business for a year and a half. Even before then, Chevron did not keep the NiMH technology locked up. That was Ovshinsky and his Ovonics company. Toyota and Panasonic used NiMH in Japan, where the Ovshinsky patents were not as strong, but found it wanting. A couple of other companies -- EEI and NiLar -- found a way around the Ovshinsky patents and sold their own large-scale NiMH batteries for cars. No one bought. Nor did any carmakers beat down the door to buy NiMH batteries from Cobasys, the Ovonics and Chevron joint venture. Plenty of money has been poured down the battery hole. I don't think there is any magic solution to the electricity storage problem. It's a tough one.

  • Ash78 Ash78 on Sep 16, 2010

    I know why this happened. It's because Merc looked at the Equinox and thought it WAS an M-class. Simple mistake.

  • Robert.Walter Robert.Walter on Sep 16, 2010

    There could be a number of strategy-related reasons why this contract was let, many of them having nothing to do with whether Daimler has the necessary in-house competence or resources to do the job(**), some of them probably may have to do with contracts and options and all that messy legal stuff, others may have to do with technical diversification, yet others may be to put pressure on Tesla(***), or to improve Toyota's terms/conditions/prices for any hybrid tech Daimler may want to source from them. ** Personally, based on some very dumb, inconsistent and arrogant statements (like "we are the best and we know it type talk) coming out of Daimler in the past regarding electric vehicles and batteries, I wondered if their management had a clue about what they needed to do in this area of technology. *** It could also just be a "cheap" way of doing a technical benchmark.

  • Greg Locock Greg Locock on Sep 16, 2010

    I can think of several reasons why they'd outsource this job 1) No ego on the line. If it is a good idea they can all get behind it, if it is a bad idea it is easy to dismiss. 2)Their engineers are too busy working on profitable programs 3)They might pick up some ideas from outside Bear in mind that almost all OEMs outsource some development work, or showcars, or manufacturing. The further it is from a core activity the more likely it is to be outsourced.