Daimler Research & Development Chief Discusses Electric Cars, PHEV Profitability & More
An interesting interview with Daimler Research & Development Chief Thomas Weber was recently published on the MotorTrend blog.
First of all, Weber revealed that about half of M-B’s R&D annual budget ($1.65 billion out of $3.3 billion for Mercedes cars) goes on CO2 reduction. That’s millions every day.
To lower CO2, the automaker is improving efficiency by:
- using more efficient engines
- more efficient transmissions (like new nine-speed)
- friction reductions
- low-resistance tires
- aerodynamic optimization
- lightweight body-in-white
- electrification / hybridization / new battery concepts
They are also playing with hydrogen fuel cells:
“Fuel-cell research is also included in his CO2-reduction basket. “We stay committed to fuel cells. Nobody knows if today’s type of battery EV will pay off in the end—the cars are OK but not the infrastructure.”
The second important part is about why they are so focused on alternative powertrains and includes a discussion on whether on not plug-in hybrids profitable for Daimler. The answers are that regulations forced them, but they hope to attract consumers after introducing such cars on the market and plug-in hybrids are profitable, although less so than conventional models:
“On the subject of alternative powertrains, does Weber think people buy them because they want them and want the fuel savings or because of the government incentives? He pauses. “I would say so far it’s more driven by regulation than the customer side. But I think we have to launch now so the customer will experience it. If you experience the smoothness of pure-electric zero emission in restricted areas with the drivability of an e-motor, then it might in the future be the drivetrain of choice. Why not? And if there is in addition subsidies or restricted areas where you can only go if you have a zero-emission car, in this combination we are sold out on our C-Class plug-in. We have to increase battery supply and production.” But do those things make money? “Well yes, of course the profitability of a non-plug-in version is better, but we are earning money with these kind of [PHEV] vehicles.”
Source: MotorTrend blog