| NEW YORK
NEW YORK Oct 31 Daimler AG, the
German parent of Mercedes-Benz, would like to expand its
cooperation with Tesla Motors Inc, the U.S.
electric-car maker, 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
Daimler also is rolling out more derivatives of its recently
redesigned S-Class flagship, he said, including a large coupe
and an exclusive "long-long-wheelbase" sedan that will be sold
in the United States and China as well as Europe.
The latter model likely will be aimed at expensive
competitors from BMW AG's Rolls-Royce and Volkswagen's
Bentley brands, filling a void left by the demise of
Daimler's unsuccessful Maybach brand.
Uebber said Daimler's U.S. plant in Alabama will begin
building the redesigned C-Class sedan next year, as well as a
new SUV derivative in 2015.
The decision on whether to establish a labor union at the
Tuscaloosa plant, long a target of United Auto Workers
organizing efforts, "lies with our workers," Uebber said.
But "we are happy with the current status" at the plant, he
added, "and the people working there are happy with the