Tesla to Charge Daimler’s Electric Smart Cars?

Tesla Motors will be charging up Daimler’s electric Smart ForTwo cars with its own lithium-ion battery technology, the German edition of the Financial Times reports (hat tip Autoblog Green). According to the report Tesla will supply the batteries for the 150 cars Daimler plans to deploy first in Berlin; Daimler subsequently aims to expand that test fleet up to 1,000 cars across several European cities. The batteries will give the mini electric cars an urban driving range of more than 90 miles.

We got in touch with Tesla in the hopes of getting more detail, but they declined comment.

The deal is reportedly part of a larger initiative Daimler is reportedly unveiling today with German utility RWE to create a network of some 500 public charging stations around that country’s capital. Daimler has been running a similar pilot project in London where some 100 electric Smarts have been zipping about since late last year. The pilot fleet currently has charge times of eight hours, but Daimler reportedly hopes that with Tesla’s newer batteries and a utility helping with infrastructure, the charge time could be reduced to two or three.

We heard back in June that Daimler and Tesla were getting cozy. At the time, Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche wouldn’t comment on the California startup but did announce electric Mercedes and Smart models for 2010. Zetsche also said that Daimler was in talks with Shai Agassi’s electric car infrastructure startup, Better Place. Today’s news of Daimler’s deal with RWE doesn’t rule out a roll for Better Place, but it could mean the German auto maker might be trying to electrify the German autobahn without Agassi.