Daimler paid "around $50 million" (€37 million) for its share in Tesla, the manufacturer of the "Model S" electric car, a much-anticipated vehicle with a range of 300 miles (480 kilometres).
The two companies will collaborate on batteries and electric motors, a joint statement said.
"Our strategic partnership is an important step towards accelerating the worldwide commericialisation of electric vehicles," said Thomas Weber, a Daimler board member, in a statement.
Daimler recently snapped up a stake in German group Li-tec to facilitate the manufacture of the lithium-ion batteries needed for electric cars. The German car giant intends to roll out several models of electric car by the end of the year.
In September, Daimler said it was joining forces with RWE, one of the country's largest energy providers, to create a network of electric cars and charging stations in Berlin. The scheme will be the largest of its kind in the world and is set to start by 2010.