A petty Twitter fight seems to have taken place between Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Mercedes-Benz’s parent company Daimler.
Things kicked off September 24th when Musk linked to a USA Today news report documenting Mercedes-Benz’s planned $1 billion investment in the production of electric cars in the United States. Having already debuted an electric semi-truck in September, Daimler announced a new brand called EQ under which Mercedes electric SUVs will be produced at its Tuscaloosa factory. A separate battery plant next to the factory is also in the works.
Musk did more than link to the story though. He commented that $1 billion dollars wasn’t “a lot of money” for a car-making giant like Daimler/Mercedes to shell out for a major futuristic project. He said he wishes “they’d do more”, hinting the company was “off by a zero.”
Provoked into responding, Daimler sent out the following message, including a link to its updated EV expansion goals: “You’re absolutely right @elonmusk. Here the missing zero: Investing >$10bn in nxt gen EVs & >$1bn in battery prod. ? http://d.ai/prM61nYk”.
Musk replied with one word: “good.”
That's not a lot of money for a giant like Daimler/Mercedes. Wish they'd do more. Off by a zero.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 24, 2017
— Daimler AG (@Daimler) September 25, 2017
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 25, 2017
While some in the media have tried to characterize Daimler/Mercedes’s move as an ‘attack on Tesla’ or blatant proof that the auto industry is out to take down Tesla, it would appear that Musk welcomes the competition. According to Business Insider:
“Musk has long welcomed competition in the electric-vehicle space, saying it will help speed the growth of sustainable transportation. He open-sourced patents in 2014 as part of that aim. Musk’s comment supports his stance that automakers with a bigger cash cushion should do more to advance electric cars. ‘It doesn’t really harm Tesla but helps the industry,’ Musk said during a 2014 call, ‘And I think actually it will help Tesla, mostly with respect to attracting and motivating the world’s best technical talent.'”
With the strides it already has made in the field of EV and electric products and with those it plans to make in the near future, Mercedes-Benz is certainly a worthy opponent to Tesla, if some still want to consider it that, or as Musk would seemingly prefer it, a formidable competitor.
If competition is what Elon Musk wants, by all accounts, it is what he will get.