The year 2012 will be an important one for Tesla Motors. Amid growing competition from established automakers, Tesla plans to sell a new Model S luxury sedan in July, and to supply Toyota with batteries, motors, and control systems for a new electric RAV4 SUV. Yesterday it announced a similar deal with Daimler for a new electric Mercedes-Benz. The success of these efforts could determine whether the company survives long-term—and what it might look like if it does.
Even if Tesla can’t succeed as an independent automaker, it could still be acquired by a bigger company, or live on as a supplier to major automakers.
Tesla is best known for its electric sports car, the Roadster. But from its early days, the company has hoped to move beyond the Roadster to lower-priced electric vehicles sold in much higher volumes. Earlier this week, Tesla revealed a luxury electric SUV, the Model X, which it plans to sell starting in 2013.