Daimler has announced that it will invest up to $1 billion to build electric SUVs and batteries at its assembly plant in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The company said it will build a new battery plant near the site in 2018, and that production of a Mercedes-Benz EQ electric SUV will begin “early next decade.” More than 600 new jobs are expected to be created under the plan.
Daimler’s interest in electrification has waxed and waned over the years. In 2009, it invested in Tesla, and it used the California company’s battery packs in the smart ED and the Mercedes B-Class Electric Drive, compliance cars that Daimler sold in low volumes and later discontinued. In 2014, Daimler sold its ownership stake in Tesla (at a profit of $780 million). By 2016, Daimler had developed its own battery technology, and terminated all ties with Tesla.
Daimler now plans to launch four new EVs under its EQ sub-brand by 2022. The first of these, the Mercedes-Benz EQC crossover, is to go on sale in 2019.
Naturally, the media has been trumpeting the announcement of the new Alabama investment as a strategy to “compete with Tesla.” Elon Musk welcomed the move, but suggested that the German automaker should be investing more. “That’s not a lot of money for a giant like Daimler/Mercedes,” Musk tweeted. “Wish they’d do more. Off by a zero.”
Daimler good-naturedly responded that the Alabama plant is only part of the story, and that it is in fact planning to invest over $10 billion in next-generation EVs. “You’re absolutely right @elonmusk,” reads a corporate tweet. “Here the missing zero: Investing >$10bn in nxt gen EVs & >$1bn in battery prod.”
So, which came first, Daimler’s chicken, or Elon’s egg? A Twitter user pointed out that Daimler’s $10 billion investment plans preceded Musk’s comment: “Elon Musk didn’t convince Daimler to invest $10 billion in electric cars overnight.”
Elon’s response: “Yes, I did :).”
That’s not a lot of money for a giant like Daimler/Mercedes. Wish they’d do more. Off by a zero.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 24, 2017
— Daimler AG (@Daimler) September 25, 2017
Yes, I did 🙂
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 26, 2017