Daimler CEO – Electric Cars Need Range Of At Least 500 km/ 310 Miles Per Charge


Daimler CEO Zetsche at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show

Daimler CEO Zetsche at the 2013 Frankfurt Motor Show

Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche was actively discussing electric cars with multiple media outlets this week at the Geneva Motor Show.

Daimler’s boss was asked specifically how much range is enough for electric cars to become mainstream. His response was surprising.

According to Zetsche, electric cars need a range of at least 310 miles/500 km per charge (NEDC) to displace ICE cars in the mainstream automotive market.

Of the 310-mile range, Zetsche says that’s “probably a reasonable number to pursue.” Adding:

“I don’t know if there’s one tipping point after which in two years all internal combustion engines will be replaced in new-car sales by electric cars.”

Zetsche says that as range increases and battery costs fall, slowly electric cars will knock out their ICE competition.

Automotive News stated:

“The cost of batteries is around $170 per kilowatt-hour, Zetsche estimated. Hitting $110 to $130 per kWh is “perhaps the threshold where performancewise and costwise you start to become competitive,” he [Zetsche] said.”

Zetsche concluded that charging infrastructure must continue to expand in order to take electric cars into the mainstream.

Source: Automotive News

Categories: Daimler, Mercedes

Tags: ,

Leave a Reply

74 Comments on "Daimler CEO – Electric Cars Need Range Of At Least 500 km/ 310 Miles Per Charge"

newest oldest most voted

People love to throw out range numbers for EVs to become mainstream. The truth is, it’s a combination of range, price, and public QC infrastructure. Tesla and Nissan get it. Tesla’s even doing something about all three.

Nissan is also doing something about all three, but geared towards people who don’t have the money to buy a Model S or X.

They aren’t putting Telsa type effort into it, but they are doing a tremendous amount more than GM, Ford or Fiat/Chrysler are doing and this is not even their home country.

You are correct. Ghosn talks a good game, but the placement of their DCFC chargers at Dealers, indicate they’re using the Leaf as a halo model, while they make most of their money from ICE vehicles. They’ve also been caught with Diesel models that emit out of spec…

Spending on the Leaf program has been ultra-conservative. Only now, are we seeing pack size increases, as their EV sales drop. Very few updates have been made to the Leaf over the lifetime of the product.

Can’t wait for them to release their 2.0 long range Car, based possibly on the IDS Prototype. We’ve never seen their ESFLOW Prototype go anywhere, so who knows if they’re really going to cannibalize their own ICE sales with a legitimately awesome EV. *shrugs*

I wouldn’t say GM is doing “nothing”. ~500 workplace charging spots at the end of 2014, who knows how much today. ~6000 dealership chargers.


Nissan is gearing their efforts towards people that can afford $30k plus on a secondary or tertiary car that only works as a city runabout.

This group is no bigger or poorer than people willing and able to spend $70k on a 240 range BEV as their only vehicle.

The number of people willing to buy an 84 mile range car as their primary car is less than 1% of buying public.

Tesla is doing more to actually replace instead of augment ICEv.


I cannot drive any 200-mile Nissan BEV from SF to LA if the DCFCs are all located at dealers and Whole Food shops.

I can drive a 200-mile Tesla Model III since the Superchargers are along the freeways.

Some get it, so don’t.

It does not seem like the marketing research has been done. If an EV can go 150 miles and sell for $30,000 is that enough?

Market research is useless here.
I got to see some of the research done by Better Place, and there are too many factors which vary greatly in different regions.

The most major problem however is that if people have no actual experience with something, whatever they say in a focus group about it has no correlation to what they’ll do in practice.

E.g., noone in the group has ever driven a short-range vehicle (<100mi, say), so the only way to find out is to provide them with such vehicles and have them use them for 6 months.

For the same reason, Apple famously doesn't use focus groups at all.

EV market research is not “useless”. It is important to find out what potential customers want.

YOu missed the point he was making. Market research is mostly usable in stable environment. I woudl definitly do market research when creating a new ice based car. When inventing something completely new? Not so.

There was not much of a point to miss, it makes more sense to know what customers want than to spend billions of dollars hoping you got it right.

It’s coming… Energy Density increases each year, as costs drop. Emissions mandates to eliminate carbon from vehicles, will force more automakers in line.

You still need high speed DC charging to conveniently utilize such a large pack for long distance travel.

Seems Tesla got this right, quite early on.

Things are changing fast for sure, and its looking like 2020s will be the decade of the electric car!! Check this if you haven’t already: http://www.bloomberg.com/features/2016-ev-oil-crisis/.

By 2022 most EVs will be cost competitive with gas cars they say.

200 mile EPA rated range is definitely the minimum for practicality for the masses IMO.
Also, DCFC infrastructure will need to be reliable and accessible along main highways between cities. We just need to be patient as these things take time. But in 10 years from now IMO affordable EVs will be able to travel intercity similar to how Tesla’s do now.

They write that by 2040 35% of new cars will have a plug. I think it will be a lot more than that.

I think that EVs will cause the same effect that smartphones or flat screen TVs did. Once the technology is good enough people will drop the old technology almost overnight. BEVs are so much more convenient, it’s not just about fuel price but the whole experience of driving and owning EVs. The simplicity of just plugging it in every time you get home – or even using a wireless system – is worth a lot. Not having problems starting your car in cold weather, not having to check your oil, always having full power when stepping on the accelerator, the comfortable silence… it all adds up.

The only thing Merc has set right these days is forging ahead with wireless charging. That is the path all automakers will tread or will be discarded. They will all come to the point Nikola Tesla envisaged them to be at. Only then will they be praised.

Tesla 100 packs will have over 500km range.


I suspect that by the time Mercedes has a 300 mile range Tesla will have enough range to charge their cars 10 to 15 times per YEAR.

False, there is just no business case to provide people with more than 500km range… it simply is unneeded.



Exactly correct. Provided the car has 300 real miles of range with moderate heater use, there really is no reason to have a longer range car.

The caveats, of course, are ubiquitous public very fast and charging intelligently placed, with normal features (easy access, restrooms, easy to find, safe, well lit, etc.).

It becomes more difficult to offer 300 mile range with a tow vehicle, so they may need a 500 or 600 mile range to get closer to the 200 or 300 mile tow range.

I actually think 300 miles is a bit high. I am considering replacing my 2013 Model S85 with a new one and it is actually quite hard to find any reason for not getting the 70D.

A 100D would be cool but I am not sure I would ever need the additional capacity even for long road trips..

After 35000 miles on the Tesla I would say that the battery must be between 50kWh to 100kWh for EVs to be real alternative to ICEs.
It will be very interesting to see what happens when these levels of battery capacities becomes available at low cost…

Nissan IDS with SC access could be a good package…

500km NEDC = 400-350km EPA (250-220miles)

ding ding ding! We have a winning post!

Mercedes is basically saying that the Tesla Model S did it right, and that is what MB needs to do in order to compete.

My magic number is only 200 miles/320km … then I’ll ditch the ICE vehicle too and go with only BEVs.

With my current Soul EV with ~160km range (only ~120km in winter), I find I have some range issues every few weeks … although more DCQC would help alot.
Right now I find myself doing a fair bit of reading sitting at a charger on those icy cold days that range is an issue.

OK 320 Km but at an 80 mph speed then.

Make it with outside temp = -10F and inside temp = 70F, and I would ditch the ICE completely.

I love how these folks not really in the EV space sound off on the subject like they have a crystal ball, all the while continuing to pursue the dying ICE model merely because they’re stuck in the past and have no vision. The P85D is already “old”, the EV space is expanding and moving ridiculously fast. Folks actually have options for a reasonably priced great EV in the next 2-3 years (Bolt, Volt, Model 3, CPO Model S), and that’s just gonna get better and better.

Best quote of the article: “Zetsche concluded that charging infrastructure must continue to expand in order to take electric cars into the mainstream.” Gee, thanks for the arcane insight..

All who have a 500 km/ 310 Miles bladder here, raise your hand. Nobody? Thought as much.

So what’s the point of having that range in a car, if the driver hasn’t?

Besides Freeway travel, some people go off the beaten track, and that range allows more travel to out of the way places, not all of which have or even will have fast DC charging available.

So because ‘some people’ do that, mr Mercedes is right in saying that mainstream EV’s should have a range of 500kms/310 miles?

I’m sorry, I don’t buy it.

200 miles range might be enough for a cruise in CA. But add in subzero temps, highway speeds north of 110km/h, parking a few days without charging and battery degradation then you’ll probablly want that 300 mile range.

Speed is unlimited on many rural German highways. Or speed limit may be like 130 km/h (80 mph). Energy use increases by about a square of speed at then. Then you have winters with when reasonable people want to turn heater on and not sit in a car with icicles inside like some crazy EV enthusiasts. 300 miles theoretical range is bare minimum to go out of enthusiast niche, and you still need to reduce “quick” charging time, and keep price competitive at the same time.

The point?
* broken chargers, you might need to go on to the next charging spot so you will want to have some spare energy.
* you’re in a hurry and can’t wait for full charge. A short top-up might do.
* show, rain, cold weather, strong winds, night driving can have a significant impact on range.
* car pileups, being stuck in traffic running a/c, headlights and/or car stereo will still drain your battery

A typical businessman ploy is to denigrate or slight the achievements of competitors. So we are just not there yet in terms of capability, though Tesla seems to be. He goes on to say: “I don’t know if there’s one tipping point after which in two years all internal combustion engines will be replaced in new-car sales by electric cars.” Well there isn’t a ‘tipping point’ and that is nonsense. And more than one tipping point goes against the definition. Maybe he means there will be multiple such points. I think it’s not a point or series of points, it’s more like a gradual replacement scenario, whereas people become more and more likely to chose evs, as their next vehicle. So it goes from 1%-5%-10%, till you get a country like Norway where it is around 25% or so. So where is the tipping point? It’s a gradual erosion of ice sales and an increase of evs sales. It is already happening. Look at Tesla sales in the luxury sedan category. While all competitors have dropped double digits in percentage of sales the Model S has risen dramatically, capturing many of those former ice buyers. Was that a tipping point?… Read more »

What is 310 miles based on? Looking at plugshare, some countries don’t have any public chargers. Then going by his “mainstream”, BEV would need > 1000 miles range. It clear he hasn’t driven EV, just basing it on gas engine that you MUST take time off to drive to “fuel”.

OTOH, FCEV should have 310 miles range or more, even if H stations are as common as gas stations. You’re not going to “fuel” FCEV everyday. I think he’s confusing BEV with FCEV.

I agree. Luckily we are just about there. At about 2020 around 300 miles of range should be the norm as the cost of batteries will have dropped and production scaled up by then.

Herr Zetsche is talking exactly about the things that Tesla is already doing. 🙂

P.S. Range will be important only for the first wave of mass market BEVs. After that there will be fast chargers everywhere and 250-300km will be enough for most people.

Hey Dieter. I hear there is a “massive oversupply of batteries”. How about you stick some in your cars and get to it?

I liked it when I read the word STICK.

Diamler CEO Deiter Zetshe said: “…Hitting $110 to $130 per kwh is “perhaps the threshold where performancewise and costwise you start to become competitive…”

In North America, Tesla Models S is currently outselling the entire combined Mercedes-Benz large luxury sedan category (including Mercedes S Class).

For FY 2015, Tesla Model S took ~24% market share of the entire North America large luxury sedan category making the Model S the the best selling large luxury sedan in 2015.

…So in the large luxury sedan category the battery “threshold” has already been crossed…for Tesla.

As others have pointed out, it’s extremely dangerous to take the word of someone with such an immense incentive to delay or downplay a new technology. Electrification is the biggest single disruptive change to transportation in the lifetime of anyone alive right now (assuming Mr. Fusion-powered flying cars aren’t right around the corner), and how various corporations react to this disruption is, if nothing else, entertaining and enlightening. In general, making this kind of broad-brush claim — “EVs need a range of X km before they can go mainstream/replace ICEs”, or something similar — is simply begging for an argument, and doesn’t really lead anywhere useful. There is a huge range of usage scenarios, based on miles driven, conditions, frequency of access to which levels of charging, number of vehicles in the household, etc. For my wife and me, our 2013 Leaf is working out fantastically well, but I know people who would NEVER willingly drive anything but a full-size pickup truck, even though they have no rational need for it. Different people have wildly different utility functions, in microeconomic terms, which means we have to be exceedingly careful about how we generalize about the entire market in even a… Read more »

Zetsche should start with Mercedes own recommendation, that every upper manager should drive an electric car. After a few days he will find out that a car needs between 10 – 25kWh / 100km…He should then ask himself why his company is not able to build a car with 50-100kWh batteries inside.

Regarding the charging infrastructure in his home country he should ask his wife or maid how much power the oven uses. Every household in Germany has an 400V 32amps outlet for cooking. It is no problem to install a 22kW wall box , too.

My Renault Zoe does 110km on a charge at minus 13 degrees Celsius (160km -200km are possible in other conditions). It recharges within 1hours. A 22kWh battery is almost enough for everything. A car with 50kWh battery and 22kW AC charging capability will destroy the ICE market in Germany.

I hope that Opel (Chevrolet) will include a 22kW charger in their German Bolt (AmperaE).

If every commuter with a home and 2 cars replaced one of those with a Leaf/Volt/Tesla we would already be mainstream. This needing 500 km is rubbish.

Another clueless quote from Dieter. What qualifications are required to be a Mercedes CEO?

The range and the QC infrastructure requirements are inversely proportional. The more range you have, the smaller the QC infrastructure you need. For example, a 100 mile EV would require quick chargers every 50 miles to be usable. A 200 mile EV would require quick chargers every 100 miles. A 400 mile EV would require quick chargers every 200 miles, and so on. In theory, as you approached the maximum range that a driver would reasonably drive, the number of quick chargers diminishes to nearly zero. For example, let’s say that a future EV had a 1000 mile range. Since almost nobody every drives that far, almost 100% of all trips would be completed at home with charge remaining, and would therefore the owner maybe never need a quick charger in the life of the car. Of course, a 1000 mile car is a ways out in the future, but the sweet spot is probably somewhere north of 300 miles. A 300 mile range means that I can drive ~135 miles away from my home and drive back with a comfortable 10% buffer. I happen to take several trips that are about 250 miles from my home, but almost nothing… Read more »

Oh, and I should have added, of the two choices (increasing the QC network or increasing battery capacity), adding the battery capacity is the more user-friendly choice. Yes, we could create a national network of quick chargers that allowed you to travel across the country in a current generation Leaf, but it would be so inconvenient to charge every 50 miles that few people would want to use it. It’s much better to have a 300 mile car and charge every 250 miles.

Yes and no. The catch is that as range improves, so will sales. So for a single driver your scenario is correct. But considering a group of drivers transitioning to EVs, you will still need more QC because of the larger number of cars on the road. Noone is saying we should build a QC network to support current gen Leafs, and then never increase the battery beyond 30kWh. Look at Tesla – they are positioning QC stations 150-200 miles apart. As they continue to increase range, each driver will use the network less and less. But that just frees up those chargers for someone else. I, like many others, think Tesla is on the right path. The sweet spot seems to be a 50-100kWh battery with a QC network spaced 150 miles apart. Looking at my own driving patterns, I usually drive less than 30 miles/day. I take a drive 250 miles (each way) roughly once a month. And I drive on a vacation roughly 400-500 miles (each way) once or twice a year. I would not want to spend the money on a huge battery for those occasional trips. Even the monthly trips, I’d be happy to stop… Read more »

So you’re saying that if there are more EVs we will need more charging stations? Of course that’s true! Nobody even suggested anything else. But my point was that you need far fewer charging stations if you have larger batteries. That remains true whether you have 100,000 EVs on the road or 1,000,000,000 EVs on the road.

My point is that in order for EVs to go mainstream, we DO need a robust, reliable QC network. Your comment seems to imply that you can solve the problem with batteries alone. You simply cannot; we need both.

Going by that logic, you need gas stations every 300 miles, which isn’t the case. People will drive like they do with gas, run it to empty, then decide to go somewhere far. There will always be a need for large DCFC infrastructure, even at 5 or 10 mile intervals like with gas stations.

You’re missing a very big point. My car is charged in my garage every night. If I had a gas station in my garage, then yes, I would rarely need to go to a gas station.

To put it another way, let’s examine why people want a gas station every 5 or 10 miles. It’s because you fill up 300 miles from the last time you filled up, which makes it essentially random. I could be anywhere when my gas gauge hits ‘E’. But when you “fill up” in your garage every night, it’s not random. I know that on every single trip within 100 miles of my house, I will start out with a full tank and will just be topping it off that night. So yeah, that’s a very big difference.

It’s stupid to carry around that much battery all the time, when 90% of the daily commutes are <50 km and 99,9% of daily commutes are <200 km.

See my comment above. The large battery makes sense, and that’s why 3 year old used Leafs are selling for $7000 now. A large battery means that you don’t have to depend on a (barely existent) quick charging infrastructure. It also means that your battery lasts the life of the car because it won’t be fully discharged and recharged every day. Yes, I know that EVs have buffers, but other than the Volt they haven’t been enough to make the battery last for the lifetime of a car (150,000 miles) without unreasonable degradation. Lastly, the bigger battery makes the car easier to use and more dependable (dependable in the sense that you can depend on your car to take you wherever you need to go, I’m not talking about breaking down).

So yeah, carrying a bigger battery around makes perfect sense, and that’s why all EVs in a few years (several?) will be 200+ mile EVs (minimum).

It is equally as stupid to carry around 25 gallons of gas in a Suburban to make a 20 mile commute. What’s your point?

Beat me to it…

The point is pretty obvious and it’s because no one wants to go to the gas station every other day because they have a tiny gas tank. You are going to eventually use all 25 gallons so why not save as many trips to the gas station as you can?!? To sum it up in one word it’s called convenience!

I think my main reason for wanting a larger battery is for the unexpected events, the “oh, I’ve forgotten something, we need to turn back” moments. I’ve ruined my ’11 Leaf battery by charging as soon as I got home (on a hot battery (I live on top of a hill)) because I want to know I can go somewhere if needed quickly. If I had capacity, it could wait until the middle of the night.

The 200 mile mark was recently the benchmark for the break-over point for mainstream EV’s. Now that 200 miles is being approached, the bar moves again. Once 300 miles becomes the norm, the only range folks like this Mercedes curmudgeon will acknowledge will be 400 miles.. and so on.. and so on..

It is stupid to carry a 200 hp engine around all the time when 99.8% of the times you only need a 20 hp engine.

Except 20 HP would be dangerous when merging to freeway.

Some prefer to think of it as “exciting” 😉

It’s stupid to have 5 seats (or 4, or 3, or even 2) when you only use 1 most of the time.

It’s stupid to have have 4 wheels, when you really only need 2.

It’s stupid to have a trunk, since you don’t normally use it.

It’s stupid to have a tune-able radio, since you normally listen to one station all the time.

🙂 And yes, I know you were being sarcastic, I’m just adding to the pile.

All I can say to that is…YUP!

310 range with DCFC is overkill for most commuters which are a large portion of potential EV owners/lessees. This is based on the current paradigm where you fill up with gas every week or so. EV’s are ‘full’ every night, so, ya don’t need DCFC except for longish trips.

200mi is plenty for me in retirement. I don’t plan on doing these 800mi RT via driving for much longer. Anything over the EV daily range will be a flight not driving.

Will GM trot out it’s, “we can’t sell 25,000 Bolt EVS a year – people don’t want EVS even at 200 miles range!” ROADSHOW in time to kill the 200 mile Model 3?

Tesla has the QC infrastructure that makes sense. Time to market is priority #1.

I’d like to see some limited edition long range rear wheel drive Tesla’s sold ( 100LD ) with lightweighting elements and perhaps folding side mirrors and a smooth, body-color grille…

Carbon fiber or a type of CFRP for hatch and hood… Perhaps consumers could pick and choose higher cost options like this for thier “ultimate max ranger”.

Would it do 350 miles in moderate climes on mostly flat or rolling terrain?

In fact, Tesla does a fantastic job in the ever-increasing 0-60 arena (what’s next, Space X launchpad mode?).

Now let’s see some new types of media attention grabbers, like a factory-based range competition or exhibition. Take 300 – 450lbs off a Model S, attach thinner, less rolling resistance tires with carbon wheels…And just go for max road trip range. Tesla needs a publicity boost. Gigafactory is not ready to produce auto batteries, Model 3 seems far away, and Model X is still slow in rolling out.

Any takers out there?

My early 1970s V8 had a useful range of less than 250 miles. Many motorcycles have a useful range of less than 150 miles. The extra range is to my mind not that important. At the Daimler price point, it might be though. For the rest of us and the planet, price reductions for mainstream use for any given range is more important.

I would never buy a B.E.V. with under 200 miles range, and haven’t, since the only BEV I bought had 244. People here say that since the average driven by the average driver is 30 miles, you only need 40 miles range. My average is 30 miles. Some days I don’t drive and all, and then the next day I drive 60 miles. SO my average is 30 but a 40 mile car will leave me stranded EVERY TIME I TAKE THE CAR OUT. People here are also always worried about ‘useless spare batteries’. Or, in a PHEV, the ‘useless spare engine’. But then you drive in an upper middle class neighborhood, and see all the Guardian emergency generators that exercise themselves once a week, but were installed to take care of the next power failure, that, to date, has only happened in a once-in-a-one hundred year occurence rate. Even Lyle Dennis did a story about his ICE emergency built in standby generator at plugincars.com. That to me is the extreme irony. People owning BEV’s because they hate ICE, but then they own permanent emergency generators including ICE’s and have them essentially uselessly running once a week because if they… Read more »

It’s pretty simple folks…range equals freedom, range equals peace of mind. They don’t make ICE cars with 4 gallon gas tanks for a reason. It’s more convenient to have more range. People love convenience. The mainstream will not switch to electric cars until they have the range of their ICE cars…..people don’t like compromises and less range to them is a compromise!

Replies here making unqualified statements about a specific range requirement / anxiety, etc. (including the headline of this article) are ignorant of reality. My 80 mi range i3 serves 100% of my needs. We currently own a 2nd vehicle which we take on longer trips a few times a year, which could be replaced with a 2nd BEV with 80 mi range and rental of an ICE vehicle for those few trips at great cost savings and minimal loss of convenience.

Range anxiety is a myth.

Current BEVs meet >90% of current car owner needs and they’re only getting better.

Handling gasoline (poison, including fumes), changing oil, putting up with noise/vibration/performance variation are all unnecessary compromises.

The future is now — no need to wait.

Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche does NOT get it … the tipping point to PEVs has little to do with range, mostly to do with economics and driving experience.

Note: economics and driving experience are the key “e”s to selling EVs! 🙂

PS: driving experience … does include having accessible and reliable charging networks.

Many of you guys just don’t get it. Commuting range is not the point. It’s BEV range for trips that makes or breaks the BEV for mainstream usage. We’re talking about replacing an ICE vehicle, not augmenting. A LEAF is find for most commutes, it is not fine for driving to Grandma’s house for Thanksgiving. So using the average trip distance as a rule for what BEV range is needed is complete bunk. If I still have to own an ICE vehicle, then BEV vehicles are not ready to replace ICE ones.