FRANKFURT -- Daimler says it expects to bring more than 10 new electric cars to the market by 2022, pulling forward its previous goal by three years.
The automaker unveiled the Generation EQ concept at the 2016 Paris auto show as the first of 10 SUVs, sedans, and compacts that are planned starting in 2019. The models will be part of a lineup that Mercedes-Benz will market under a new EQ subbrand.
The expedited time frame reflects the urgency facing automakers as they brace for a shift away from traditional automotive technologies. Combustion engines would continue to be refined for a "transitional period," Daimler said.
"We want to shape the profound transformation of the automotive industry from the forefront," Daimler Chairman Manfred Bischoff said in a statement ahead of the carmaker's annual shareholder meeting on Wednesday. "Further fundamental changes will be required for Daimler to remain successful," as the industry adjusts to cars running on electric motors and capable of driving themselves, he said.
The faster pace comes as the car industry battles with a backlash against diesel cars stemming from Volkswagen Group's cheating scandal. Daimler has also been embroiled in increased scrutiny of the technology with German prosecutors investigating the automaker's employees over diesel-manipulation allegations. The technology is key for meeting increasingly stringent rules for lowering carbon dioxide emissions.
After achieving steady reductions in CO2 emissions in previous years, Daimler struggled in 2016 with levels in Europe steady at 123 grams per kilometer as buyers favored larger vehicles. In its home region, Daimler needs to achieve a level of 100g/km by 2021 or face heavy fines.
German diesel demand in December fell to the lowest level since September 2010, accounting for 43 percent of total sales, according the Center for Automotive Research at the University of Duisburg-Essen. Early signs of carmakers shifting focus from combustion engines are showing, Germany's IG Metall union said after conducting a survey of manufacturers and suppliers in Daimler's home state of Baden-Wuerttemberg.
"Among development teams, especially in diesel, there are signs there's less to do as electrification is starting to have an impact," Roman Zitzelsberger, a union representative on Daimler's supervisory board, told reporters in Berlin. "We found there are fewer follow-up requests and general degree of activity."
Separately, Daimler said it expects record sales volumes for Mercedes cars in the first quarter of the year.
"The positive sales trend continued in March," Daimler said in the statement.
The company also confirmed its full-year group sales and earnings targets.
Reuters and Bloomberg contributed to this report