Elon Musk: “Mercedes saved Tesla with $ 50 million”

Tesla chef Elon Musk.
  • Elon Musk admitted in an interview Tuesday that the world’s most valuable carmaker, Tesla, was rescued by Mercedes in 2008.
  • The Swabians invested $ 50 million in Tesla and had the electric car maker produce electric drivetrains for the Smart brand.
  • In 2014, Mercedes sold its shares for a whopping $ 780 million at the time. Mercedes executives are still annoyed that they stopped investing in 2008 and sold their shares a few years later.

From the curb to the skyline: this is pretty much the story of the most precious carmaker in the world today, Tesla. At least when Elon Musk tells him. Tesla is a company of extremes, as the billionaire keeps reminding us. Today, the electric car maker is chasing from one stock market record to another and is technologically years ahead of its competitors, especially when it comes to software. However, the Tesla brand hasn’t always been all glamor and glory, in 2008 it was still considered a “dumb car company,” Musk admits in an interview Tuesday.

In December of the same year, the electric car maker looked into the abyss, Musk had been flying around the world for months and was desperate for investors. It’s a time when US auto giants were in free fall, General Motors and Chrysler were broke and had to be bailed out by the US government. The financial crisis has erupted, with disastrous consequences.

At this critical moment, Musk found what he was looking for in Baden-Württemberg of all places with the automobile inventor Daimler. Company engineers told Musk in October 2008 that they needed an electric transmission for their Smart, and in January of the following year a team of Daimler top managers were in the United States. So Tesla had three months to fit the powertrain into the car, Musk said in an interview Tuesday.

Said and done. Tesla engineers built a custom roadster powertrain and battery modules into the narrow vehicle, and it worked, Musk enthuses. Cut in January: The Daimler delegation is visiting the United States and is meeting Musk and his engineers Tesla, the billionaire says the meeting does not seem to have much interest. When even the electrical engineers throw a PowerPoint at the wall, the Mercedes men want to leave the room. Musk intervenes and proposes to the Swabians to test the Smart. The rest is history. Daimler invested $ 50 million in Tesla, which was valued at around $ 500 million at the time. The Swabians thus secured 10 percent of the company. “Mercedes saved Tesla with a $ 50 million investment,” Musk said. A humble admission rarely heard by the billionaire.

Mercedes resold its shares in 2014 for a whopping $ 780 million at the time. Both the buying and selling of Tesla stock took place during the reign of longtime Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche.

Today, however, Mercedes board members are annoyed that Daimler no longer invested in the electric car company at the time and sold it in 2014, Business Insider learned from corporate circles. With slight resignation, Untertürkheim says: “This is life”.


About the author


Leave a Comment