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Mercedes-Benz rented a Tesla Model X and dismantled it

Trying to be subtle has its risks

There’s a less obvious, yet common practice in the automotive world regarding one automaker’s interest in a rival’s cars.

In most cases, these “studies” happen under the radar, but there are, of course, exceptions. For example, do you remember when Porsche presumably trolled Honda through a GT3 test car?

While that was a cordial, sweet example, the one in which Mercedes and Tesla are involved is slightly cringeworthy.

As the German magazine Spiegel reports, Daimler rented a Tesla Model X from a couple (via the Sixt car rental service) and started a series of thorough tests. Some of them happened on Daimler’s Sindelfingen test track, others on a road trip all the way to Barcelona, Spain. The word goes that the German company even dismantled the Tesla, for an elaborate study of the car, before rebuilding and returning it to Sixt.

It goes without saying that Daimler violated the rental agreement. Sixt compensated the Model X’s owners but is now seeking for the German automaker to right the wrong with a five-digit sum. This being Germany, we’re talking Euros.

The main reason Mercedes-Benz would take this risk is to avoid public exposure. Given the outcome, it didn’t go well for them.

After buying 9% of the Tesla shares in 2010 — which was a critical vote of confidence at the time, and a saving capital infusion — Daimler is now prepared to play the EV game by investing 30 billion euros in the next two years for research and development of its future electric lineup

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