On Tuesday, Tesla Motors announced a membership change in the company's Board of Directors, that reminds us that Daimler owns a portion of Tesla. The change occurred because of a change of responsibilities of Daimler's employees, and results in Dr. Herbert Kohler being replaced by Mr. Harald Kroeger.
Dr. Herbert Kohler was previously Head of “e-drive & Future Mobility,” and Chief Environmental Officer, of Daimler. He was originally named to the Tesla board in 2009, when Daimler bought its 10% stake in Tesla. Dr. Kohler's resignation from Tesla's board is described by Tesla's management in an SEC filing, as the "result of a natural transition of responsibilities at Daimler AG with respect to the development of electric vehicle powertrains."
Replacing Dr. Kohler is Mr. Harald Kroeger, Vice President of Electrics/Electronics & e-Drive for Daimler AG. Kroeger took on that role in May 2012 when Mercedes-Benz overhauled the product development organization with the goal of developing more plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles. Kroeger had formerly been in charge of Quality Management at MB, and was put in charge of the new Electrics/Electronics & e-Drive. That area had previously been a research project. Dr. Kohler transitioned into a new role, in charge of Corporate Research and Sustainability, which had formerly been two separate research groups.
When Tesla's SEC filing said this was the result of a "natural transition of responsibilities," without elaboration, they clearly referred to these changes in Daimler's product development organization.
In May 2009 when Daimler bought the 10% stake in Tesla, it was described as a partnership to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles. "Our strategic partnership is an important step to accelerate the commercialization of electric drives globally," said Dr. Thomas Weber, Member of the Board of Daimler AG, responsible for Group Research and Mercedes-Benz Cars Development. "As a young and dynamic company, Tesla stands for visionary power and pioneering spirit. Together with Daimler's 120 years of experience in the automotive sector this collaboration is a unique combination of two companies' strengths. This marks another important milestone in Daimler's strategy for sustainable mobility."
As a result of that partnership, Tesla Motors supplies battery packs and other technology to Daimler for various electric cars such as the Smart ForTwo-ED. Additionally, Tesla Motors has access to Daimler's parts catalog for use in designing Tesla's cars such as the Model S.