In an exchange on social media, Tesla CEO Elon Musk stated that the automaker will reach out to Daimler about the possibility of co-developing an electric van.
Musk stated his company’s intent to “inquire” about an electric van partnership as a reply to a twitter user daydreaming of a Tesla van, which they posited as a solution to heavy fuel consumption of internal combustion commercial vans.
Rumors of an electric version of Daimler’s acclaimed Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van circulated in 2017, which Daimler confirmed in February with its announcement that electric Sprinters would become available in 2019. Because the automaker already intends to bring an electric van to market, it issued a cheeky response to Musk.
Prior plans for electric vans do not preclude the possibility of a Tesla-Daimler partnership for the Sprinter or other electric vans, however. Reuters reports that Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche told a Polish newspaper in October that he does not rule out future joint projects between the two automakers, despite the fact that Daimler sold its four percent stake in Tesla in 2014.
Daimler’s electric Sprinter will come with two battery capacities of 41 and 55 kilowatt-hours (kWh), with 71 and 91 miles’ range respectively. Access to Tesla’s 100 kWh battery packs (if compatible) could give the vans up to around 160 miles of range.
The Drive contacted Tesla to confirm that it is in discussions with Daimler, though a spokesperson stated that the company has nothing to add to Musk’s tweet.
A Tesla van would not be the first of the company’s commercial vehicles, and likely not its last either. Tesla is expected to launch its Semi in 2019, with almost 600 miles of range. It portends up to 100,000 annual sales of the truck by 2023, and given how much larger the global market for vans is in comparison to semis, demand for a Tesla-badged electric van—whether or not it’s a Daimler underneath—would probably be considerable.
Listen up, Ford Transit.
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