About a year ago, more precisely, on May 13, 2019, Daimler told the world its plans to go fully electric. The project was called Ambition2039, and it contained the steps the company would take to sell only carbon-neutral vehicles by 2039. Very few media outlets gave it any attention, including InsideEVs, but they (we) should. It shows how hard it is for a legacy automaker to get rid of combustion engines.
When you have a new company deciding to produce EVs, it may have a hard time getting the “dinosaur technologies” together. Sandy Munro coined this expression meaning the manufacturing of a body, for example. On the other hand, these new companies have something legacy carmakers cannot afford: a blank sheet of paper to conceive and produce their cars as they wish.
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The first example that the Mercedes-Benz controller cannot do that was the EQC. While it was theoretically conceived from the bottom up as an EV, it still has a motor under the hood instead of a frunk. That is something Volvo did not have to do with the XC40 Recharge, a car that also has ICE versions.
The excuse Daimler gave at the time was that this way of producing the EQC would make it cheaper. It shares the same Bremen factory with the C-Class, the GLC, and the GLC Coupé. In that sense, it had to have the same powertrain assembly process these other vehicles have for scale savings. We wonder why Volvo did not have the same issue.
The fact is that this shows there is a long road ahead for the inventor of the first combustion-engined vehicle to sell carbon-neutral cars. Daimler and all other legacy automakers will have to get rid of production methods, tools, design strategies, and a long etc. before they are free from their legacy. At this point, legacy works more like a burden.
Volkswagen has made plans for a faster transition. It modified an entire factory – Zwickau – to produce only EVs. It intends to sell 1 million EVs by 2025. Why has Daimler been so conservative in its plans? We know it wants to implement blockchain to ensure suppliers also respect carbon-neutral policies and that they join the process. But isn’t 20 years too much time to get things going?
As a pioneer in personal mobility, Daimler deserves the right to remain among the companies that survive the transition towards electric mobility. We just wish this gradual process does not take more time than it should for the company to break all the chains that attach it to a past way of doing things, even if some “dinosaur technology” remains the same.