Since that investment, Tesla has provided Smart and Mercedes-Benz with drivetrains for various electric cars, including previous-generation Smart ForTwo Electric Drive and A Class prototypes.
During Tesla’s first earnings call of 2012, CEO Elon Musk said the firm had signed a contract to work on another Daimler product, but wouldn’t say what it was.
Now we know: the 2013 A Class Electric.
Before you get excited however, it is expected that the 2013 Mercedes-Benz A Class Electric will be treated as a prototype car by Daimler, much like the BMW active E and Audi A3 e-tron are to rival automaker BMW and Audi.
In other words, expect it to be a limited-run electric car that will only be available to limited numbers of lease customers: not a car you can buy.
Unveiled at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show, the 2013 Mercedes-Benz A Class looks nothing like the previous-generation, somewhat dowdy model, and will be the first A Class to be sold in the U.S.
At the moment, neither Daimler nor Tesla are forthcoming on any more details on the 2013 A Class Electric, but we would at least expect limited numbers to reach the U.S., most likely as test-fleet vehicles in California, New York and the Pacific Northwest.
It's also worth noting that an A Class Electric lease program could follow on neatly from the current B Class F-Cell program currently underway in Southern California, providing current lease test-drivers with a new car when the time comes.
Don’t despair however: those wanting an electric Benz to call their own may soon be able to buy the 2013 B Class E-Cell Plus. Larger than the 2013 A Class, it will compete directly with cars like the 2012 Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid and 2012 Chevrolet Volt in the range-extended electric car marketplace, but only if Daimler finally commits to selling it in the U.S.