Mercedes, of course, is already planning to launch a battery-electric version of its commercial cargo van called the eSprinter next year. But Musk, in a Twitter thread, explains that Tesla has a “Lot on our plate” and could source “glider” versions of the eSprinter from Mercedes with the battery, powertrain and computer system stripped out in order to get a Tesla-fied cargo van on the road more quickly. “Priority list is Model Y, solar roof tiles, pickup, semi, Roadster,” he adds, helpfully.
Maybe interesting to work with Daimler/Mercedes on an electric Sprinter. That’s a great van. We will inquire.
As with many things that Musk says on Twitter, it’s unclear how seriously we should take this; Autoblog sought comment from Tesla’s PR unit.
Lot on our plate, so it’s either get van gliders (no battery, powertrain or compute tech) from Daimler & produce sooner or do all & produce later. Not a big difference to total vehicles produced either way. Priority list is Model Y, solar roof tiles, pickup, semi, Roadster.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 19, 2018
But it’s worth noting that Daimler and Tesla have tangoed together before. Back in 2009, in the depths of the Great Recession, Daimler spent $50 million to acquire a 10-percent stake in Tesla, a move that Musk credited with “saving Tesla” in a 2012 interview with Autoblog. Tesla previously supplied battery packs and drivetrains for the Mercedes-Benz B Class Electric Drive, but Daimler, seeing the two companies increasingly as EV competitors, sold all its remaining shares by 2014 to begin separating technologies.
It’s also unclear how such a deal would benefit either company. Mercedes’ eSprinter will come in two versions: one with a 41 kWh battery providing 71.5 miles of range, and a more powerful 55 kWh variant with 93.2 miles of driving range. Daimler also plans to launch the eVito passenger van and a smaller eCitan. And while Tesla doesn’t currently have anything for the cargo van segment, it is working on its electric Semi, which promises to have a 500-mile driving range and is supposed to go into production in 2019.