Elon Musk Reopens Door to Daimler With Vow to Inquire About Electric Van

Elon Musk
Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg News

Elon Musk floated the idea of working with a familiar ally on electric work vans after being guilt-tripped on Twitter for using fuel-burning vehicles to service Tesla Inc. models.

The Tesla CEO vowed to inquire with Daimler AG about working together on an electric Sprinter van. He was tweeting Nov. 19 in response to a follower who wrote to him that Tesla needed an electric service vehicle rather than vans in use now that “burn fuel like crazy.”

Daimler already has an electric van called the eVito, which offers a driving range of 94 miles and began selling in the second half of this year. An electric version of the larger Mercedes Sprinter is slated for 2019, the company has said.

Tesla has had a past fling with Daimler. The companies collaborated on electric versions of the Smart fortwo and Mercedes A-Class and B-Class compact cars, and Tesla supplied powertrains for the B-Class from 2014 until 2017. Daimler even bought a stake in Tesla in May 2009.

The investment and alliance were key to helping Musk keep the company afloat during the global recession. Tesla was in the early stages of producing Roadster sports cars and still years away from bringing the Model S sedan to market.

Daimler sold off its holdings in October 2014 as Tesla’s Model S started to compete directly with the Mercedes S-Class. A Daimler spokeswoman said Nov. 19 that the company appreciates Musk’s interest in the eSprinter and declined further comment.