Tesla will help develop new electric Mercedes-Benz

Electric car company Tesla Motors Inc. announced a deal to provide the powertrain for a new Mercedes-Benz vehicle, even as it moves closer to manufacturing its own vehicles later this year.

The Palo Alto automaker also said Wednesday that it expected revenue to roughly triple this year, when it will begin selling the Tesla Model S sedan, its first ground-up design. The company is about to launch production of the Model S at its factory in Fremont, Calif.

For the new Mercedes model, Tesla will provide the battery packs, motor, gearbox, inverter and all related software. It will start to record sales for the contract starting in the second quarter. Mercedes has not released details about the new vehicle. Tesla has previously provided Daimler with battery packs and chargers for its experiments with electric car production.

As expected, Tesla has continued to pile up losses as it prepares to produce the Model S, the first vehicle it will make in any volume. Tesla posted a net loss of $81.5 million in the fourth quarter and $254.4 million for 2011. Fourth-quarter revenue rose 9% to $39 million from the same period a year earlier. Full-year revenue in 2011 rose 75% to $204 million.

Tesla also said it was developing a growing backlog of business. It has 8,000 pre-orders for the Model S and has already logged 500 reservations for a Model X crossover announced just last week.

With an expected delivery of 5,000 Model S cars this year, growing powertrain sales and the sell-down of the last of the Tesla Roadster sports cars that it developed with British automaker Lotus, Tesla expects $550 million to $600 million in revenue this year. Most of that will come in during the second half of 2012, the company said.


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