2014 Tesla Model S
"Don't bite the hand that feeds you" is a popular saying, but perhaps "don't criticize the company you're sharing technology with" should be another.
The latter would apply to Mercedes-Benz, whose U.S. boss Steve Cannon criticized Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] at the New York Auto Show.
Perhaps Cannon is forgetting that Mercedes has previously turned to Tesla for its electric vehicle expertise. Or that Tesla buys in certain Mercedes components for its Model S electric car.
Forbes quotes the Mercedes boss as saying future service of Tesla's vehicles could be "limited".
He says that while Tesla is "great", other luxury automakers bringing plug-in vehicles to the market could be more attractive in the long run.
Mercedes' extensive dealer network, multiple peripheral powertrain options (such as gasoline and diesel) and its experience of the luxury market may be beneficial for customers wanting the "complete luxury experience".
Once players such as Mercedes and Porsche enter the luxury electric vehicle market, he questions whether Tesla will be able to maintain its current, growing success.
Cannon also suggests the current infrastructure isn't up to maintaining and fueling electric vehicles. In particular, Tesla's stores and go-to servicing may not be up to the demands of higher sales volumes. Mercedes, he says, has the "whole network", putting customers minds' at ease.
Mercedes is set to introduce more plug-in hybrid vehicles in the coming years, something Cannon says could become a "mainstream technology" for the brand.
It isn't the first time a German automaker has taken a shot at Tesla--last year, Audi launched a curious salvo at claims Tesla's Model S was outselling vehicles in one specific segment, across a set time period.
The automaker rebutted certain claims that neither Tesla nor media outlets had made, then withdrew its press release shortly after.
It's also worth noting that neither Audi nor Mercedes, nor other luxury brands in the market, currently offer or plan to offer an all-electric version of their luxury vehicles--only plug-in hybrids.
For some consumers, that still leaves Tesla at an advantage--if you really don't like filling cars with gasoline, the Model S is still your only option in the executive segment.