Daimler Deal Will Bolster Electric Car Plans

By dancurranjr On March 29th, 2009

fisker-hybridDaimler is selling $2.7 billion worth of its shares to Aabar Investment, the fund of the Abu Dhabi government. In a joint statement, the companies said the investment would help support the technological development in two areas: electric vehicles and compound materials for auto manufacturing.

The deal is the latest in a series of investments that Persian Gulf states have made in luxury automakers. In 2005, the Mubadala Development Company, another Abu Dhabi firm, bought a 5 percent stake in Ferrari for $138 million. In 2007, a consortium of Kuwaiti investors, led by David Richards, owner of Prodrive, bought Aston Martin from Ford for nearly $850 million. A year later, Investment Dar, part of the Kuwaiti Aston Martin consortium, bought a 40 percent stake in Prodrive.

At the time, Mr. Richards said the Investment Dar deal would help Prodrive, an automotive and motorsports company, develop future products, hinting at alternative-energy technologies. “I see a great opportunity to expand our current work developing the new generation of environmental technologies such as hybrid cars, hydrogen fuel cells and variable compression ratio engines,” he said.

Over the last two years, Gulf states have dropped some of their disposable income in several high-profile electric-car start-ups. Last September, the Qatar Investment Authority led a $65 million Series C financing round for Fisker Automotive, which is prepared to introduce its first plug-in hybrid vehicle later this year. The Al Yousuf Group, based in Dubai, has invested in Zap, an electric car company, according to Autoblog Green. Al Yousuf himself has invested in Phoenix Motorcars.

Daimler’s deal seems to continue this trend — while shoring up Daimler’s finances during a time of economic collapse — but on a much greater scale.

SOURCE: New York Times

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