Tesla had already tapped Jerome Guilen, former general manager of Daimler's Cascade, to work on the electric Model S sedan about six years ago. More recently, Tesla brought aboard Evan Chenoweth, who previously worked on the SuperTruck's hybrid-engine setup.
And that work was successful. Last year, Daimler won $20 million in grants from the US Department of Energy for the second phase of the DOE's SuperTruck project. By pairing an 11-liter diesel engine with an electric motor, the SuperTruck was able to achieve fuel economy of 12 miles per gallon equivalent. By car standards, that's a gas guzzler, but by heavy-duty truck standards, it's downright green, as the SuperTruck doubled the fuel-efficiency goals the US DOE set out for the project.
Daimler acquired a 10-percent stake in Tesla in 2009, and provided Tesla with some engineering support. Daimler sold its last remaining shares in Tesla in 2014.
Where Tesla is going with its truck-development program is anyone's guess, but, unlike SuperTruck, anything involving Tesla will go the all-electric route as opposed to diesel-hybrid. This summer, Tesla chief Elon Musk unveiled his second "master plan," for the company, and included a program that would involve the development of both heavy-duty trucks and buses. Tesla may have prototypes of those vehicles as soon as next year.