FRANKFURT (Reuters) -- Batteries have won a slight edge over hydrogen fuel cells in the race to develop environmentally friendly cars, Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche told a German newspaper.
Daimler is cooperating with partners in both areas and Zetsche said it was, however, still unclear which of the two competing technologies would be more successful in playing a leading role in the sector.
"But one has to recognize: batteries have become more attractive in recent years. It has become more likely that they could prevail," Zetsche told Euro am Sonntag in an interview, adding that batteries had shown progress in two key areas - range and charging time.
"Cars with electric driving ranges of 500 kilometers (310 miles) and fast charging times of 20 minutes are within reach," Zetsche said.
Meanwhile, the biggest challenge with regard to fuel cells - the affordable and wide distribution of hydrogen - had not been solved yet, Zetsche said.
Last month, Thomas Weber, Daimler's r&d chief, said the company is developing plans to produce a family of battery-powered luxury vehicles for its Mercedes-Benz brand.
Germany's EV goal
Zetsche also said the German government must do more to ensure its declared goal of having 1 million electric cars in Europe's biggest economy by 2020 is met, but stopped short of calling for subsidies.
"Subsidies could only fulfil a bridging function anyway," he said, adding that they could not be the solution in the medium and long term.
Germany lags other European markets when it comes to subsidies and providing charging points for electric cars. Chancellor Angela Merkel earlier this month met with industry executives to find a solution.
"I'm just saying: If everything stays the way it is now, you have to bid farewell to the target of putting 1 million electric cars on Germany's roads by 2020," Zetsche said.