Mercedes-Benz talks electric vehicle lineup at EVS 30 – refuses to give up on ICE, diesel, and fuel cell

The 30th International Electric Vehicle Symposium (EVS 30) started today in Stuttgart and Mercedes-Benz brought its electric vehicle lineup for the occasion.

In an interview, Ola Källenius, who is responsible for Group Research at Daimler AG and Mercedes-Benz Cars Development, talked about Mercedes-Benz’s electric vehicle effort, but he also insisted on the need for internal combustion engines (ICE), diesel, and fuel cells at the electric vehicle conference.

Källenius, who has been working at Daimler for over 20 years, calls it a “three-lane drive system strategy”:

“Yes, on the road to emission-free driving we are continuing to pursue a three-lane drive system strategy: we are focusing on highly efficient high-tech combustion engines, systematic hybridisation and battery-electric or fuel cell drive. We are quite consciously establishing ourselves on a broad basis in view of our extensive vehicle portfolio and the mobility requirements of our customers.”

The executive reinforced Daimler’s previously announced goal to have 25% of its vehicles be fully-electric by 2025, but he points out that internal combustion remains the most important part of their lineup:

“I’m sure that the combustion engines will still be around for a long time to come. In the year 2025 we are looking at a sales share of up to 25 percent for the purely battery-electric cars. This automatically means that at least 75 percent will still have a combustion engine on board – also combined with electric, naturally.”

Källenius says that diesel and fuel cell hydrogen will also remain important parts of Daimler’s, and especially Mercedes-Benz’s, vehicle lineup.

That’s not really what we want him to say at an electric vehicle conference, but the executive also mentioned Daimler’s $11 billion investment in batteries and all-electric vehicles through its EQ lineup.

He says that EQC, the all-electric SUV unveiled last year, will hit the market during “the first half of 2019” and Mercedes-Benz will ramp up from there:

“By 2022 we will have launched a total of more than ten purely electrically driven vehicles. Over and above this we shall electrify the entire Mercedes-Benz portfolio and thus offer our customers at least one electrified alternative in every Mercedes-Benz model series, over 50 in all. We offer the customer the choice – depending on their individual preference and needs.”

As for the charging infrastructure to support this EV expansion, Källenius referenced Daimler being a part of the group of 5 major automakers joining forces to deploy 400 ultra-fast (350 kW) charging stations for electric vehicles in Europe.

Electrek’s Take

As you know, our timeline for EV adoption is way more optimistic at Electrek and we think that Daimler will be in for a surprise if they are planning for only 25% of their sales to be electric by 2025.

Once all-electric powertrains, due to the falling cost of batteries, reach cost parity with internal combustion engines before accounting for cost of operation (gas and maintenance savings), there will be virtually no reason for buyers to want gas-powered cars over battery-powered cars.

At the rate battery costs are falling, it will happen soon (we estimate between 2020 and 2025) and automakers not prepared for it will have a more difficult time adjusting their production.

While we are excited for the launch of Mercedes-Benz’ new EQ lineup, we think that they should reverse their expected 25/75 EV/ICE mix.

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