Tesla to develop an electric vehicle for Mercedes-Benz

Article by Christian Andrei, on February 19, 2012

Tesla has began a development program with Daimler to produce a new electric Mercedes-Benz vehicle with a Tesla powertrain, according to a shareholder’s letter sent last Wednesday that contained its fourth quarter and full year earnings. Daimler has already been investing in Tesla and makes use of Tesla battery packs for its electric Smart cars.

There have been plenty of speculations about Daimler’s plans for an electric Mercedes. Tesla said that the electric Mercedes-Benz program will make use of a full powertrain, which includes the motor, gearbox, inverter and software. However, Tesla failed to offer details about its launch date or production volumes.

Tesla said that it will recognize revenue from the program starting in the second quarter. Tesla’s deal with Mercedes-Benz comes after it unveiled its third car, the Model X model, in Los Angeles last week.

Tesla’s earnings are on track to offer its first Model S cars to customers beginning this Summer as its DOE loan and relationship are in good standing. It also said that it is expecting guidance of between $550 million and $600 million for the year ahead.

While the Tesla Model S is indeed considered as the first sedan to be completely powered with electricity, it is also the best example when it comes how automotive engineering has evolved. Having an all-wheel drive that is electric-powered, it has a motor in the front and another one in the rear. In addition, the Tesla Model S utilizes a system wherein the torque on the wheels, both the front and the back, is not only controlled digitally but independently as well. As such it delivers traction control that is unmatched no matter what the condition is.

Thus while standard AWD models typically improve traction at the expense of fuel efficiency, the AWD of the Tesla Model S simply increases the efficiency. By implementing a low center of gravity, it allows for better handling. This was made possible by placing the battery pack in the middle of the axles and along the vehicle’s floor pan.

There is no doubt that no other production vehicle has the best placement to give handling that is optimum. Performance is one-of-a-kind with acceleration from 0 to 60 mph attained in 2.8 seconds, making it the fastest four-door sedan there is. Safety is not a problem as this offering from Tesla may be one of the safest vehicles in the market. One factor that raised safety is the position of the electric drivetrain under the vehicle.

In addition, the low center of gravity also translates to better safety since the risk of rollover is minimized. Active safety features are fitted inside as well like the blind spot detection, collision warning, lane departure warning, and automatic emergency braking. Tesla will be offering other systems as an option that include summon, autopark, autosteer, and the traffic-aware cruise control.

It is no wonder then why the Model S has received the 5-star safety rating from the Euro NCAP and the NHTSA. In fact when it underwent testing in the U.S., it set a record for being the vehicle where there is the lowest risk of occupants experiencing injury. All of these excellent benefits are due to the Model S making use of the brand’s platform which is to place the battery on the floor.

The resulting lower center of gravity means better performance and handling while lowering the possibility of a rollover from occurring. Additionally, by having no engine, it means the model has a larger crumple zone compared to standard sedans. This helps it absorb more energy should an impact occur on the front end. Efficiency, performance, and safety -- all of these are present in the Model S and thus raises the bar for what a 21st century car should be. Tesla however persists in making it even better with advanced software updates, giving it the longest range for an electric vehicle, and offering the highest ratings in terms of safety.

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