Daimler AG is committed to being in the forefront of electric drive, helped by its China parter BYD. The company's Mercedes-Benz car unit could already bring more electric vehicles to market if the demand were sufficient, CEO Dieter Zetsche said during at a round table discussion at the Beijing auto show attended by Automobilwoche Editor Guido Reinking.
China key to electric car future, Zetsche says
Absolutely. If you look at the population and the growth here, you quickly reach the conclusion that it would be unthinkable to provide these people with traditional gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles. There just isn't enough oil for that. So there has to be personal transportation that is not dependent on oil and is CO2-free to the greatest possible extent. In this regard, BYD is clearly a front runner.
Our common development center will be here in China. That just makes sense because it will be a Chinese car for the Chinese market. I can already say this much: The taxi segment is the most promising segment for such a car in China.
You have already given the answer to that with your question. France and the U.S. are also doing more than Germany in this regard.
We want to be independent of oil and to avoid emissions. This is an enormous challenge, not only technologically but also financially. We have to invest a great deal and then we need volume to reduce costs. Otherwise, the cars are too expensive and we will not get volume. We need start-up financing in the form of government incentives. But there are hardly any electric cars on the market. Without subsidies, there won't be any for a long time.
We have two electric cars, the A class and the Smart, and we are working on more models. We are now producing 1,000 a year, but we could build 10,000 or 15,000 if the level of demand were appropriate.