Of all of the people and companies that have benefited from the success of Tesla Motors over the last few years, the early investors — whether individual or corporate — are the ones that really seem to have made out the best.
Daimler AG and Toyota, in particular, seem to have made out quite handsomely — with the investments made by those two companies bringing in more than a billion dollars in profit after just ~5 years. Considering that Daimler and Toyota are technically competitors to Tesla, it’s does seem rather amusing when you think about it that they’ve profited more (to date) from Tesla’s success than Tesla has.
Of course, thinking about things that way is an oversimplification — as, of course, Tesla has grown enormously in scale of operations, public image, and technical ability, amongst other things. And the company is also making considerable progress on its journey to releasing a “mass market” electric vehicle (EV). The game isn’t over yet.
The Motley Fool provides more some more info:
Both Daimler and Toyota played key roles in making Tesla Motors the company it is today. Musk himself credited Daimler’s timely $50 million investment in 2009 as a key to the company’s early survival. And Toyota’s $50 million investment when the company went public, along with a supply agreement for the RAV4 EV, gave investors confidence to believe in the company. The financial impact for both companies was substantial.
Amazingly, each company made a bigger profit from Tesla Motors than Tesla Motors has ever made itself — even though neither company seemed keen on being a long-term partner for the electric-vehicle upstart. Toyota decided not to renew its RAV4 EV supply deal, and Daimler is winding down its reliance on Tesla as it builds out its own battery capacity in Germany. They’ve both moved on to their own alternative fuel plans, taking Tesla profits with them.
Still, Tesla has done quite well — so there’s no reason to consider the situation as one where the company lost out. All three companies seem to have benefited notably.
Also, from what we’ve seen, it’s still not entirely clear if Toyota and Daimler chose not to renew their supply agreements with Tesla or if Tesla decided it was more worthwhile to retain its limited supply of batteries for its own vehicles.