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Saturday, November 2, 2013

Daimler wants to expand cooperation with Tesla

Daimler would like to expand its cooperation with Tesla Motors, a top Daimler executive said on Thursday.

"I told my guys, go back to Tesla and look for other opportunities" to work together, Bodo Uebber, Daimler's chief financial officer, said at a press briefing. "We want to look for more cooperation."

Tesla is supplying electric motors and batteries to Daimler for its Smart Fortwo EV and the new Mercedes-Benz B-Class EV that goes on sale next year in the United States and Europe.

"We could use more" from Tesla, Uebber said, without providing specifics. Daimler holds a 4.3 percent stake in Tesla, which also provides EV components to Toyota Motor Corp.

Uebber said Daimler, which just launched its new CLA compact sedan and is preparing to add a second model, the GLA compact crossover, in early 2014, is already reviewing plans for its next generation of small vehicles, due around 2018.

Daimler is discussing "different strategies" for building the next-generation compacts in Mexico with partner Renault-Nissan , "but no decision has been made," Uebber said.

He said the CLA, the GLA and at least one more derivative in 2015 from the company's MFA modular platform were crucial to Daimler's growth, especially in the United States and China.

"We are a late comer" to the small premium segment, he said, but "we need compact cars to get a broader, younger customer base."

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