Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive

Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive

At the German company's annual meeting, Daimler shareholders voiced concerns about the lack of competitive vehicle offerings. Portfolio manager, Ingo Speich, from Union Investment, said that there is worry that the future of premium German automakers may be at stake. He said the industry is facing “a radical upheaval, driven by attacks from Silicon Valley”. 

Tesla Model 3

Tesla Model 3

A Daimler shareholder commented in agreement:

“We don’t really have a product for this competition from Tesla. In the long term we have some great vehicles . . . but they are virtual at this point.”

Many other questions were posed to Daimler at the meeting. One attendee asked why there is no true European competition to Tesla's Model 3. Another wondered if maybe Daimler dropped its Tesla shares prematurely. The Financial Times reported:

"Daimler bought a 9.1 percent stake in Tesla in May 2009, before it went public, for an estimated $50m. It disposed of its shares in October 2014, netting $780m. This year Tesla shares have risen about 10 percent."

The company's CEO, Dieter Zetsche, provided some answers. He reminded the group that Daimler is a front runner in new technology. Plans are to have 10 Mercedes plug-in hybrids for sale by 2017. Also, to compete against the Tesla Model 3, Zetsche said Daimler will offer an all-electric car with a 500km (311 mile) range.

Zetsche also pointed out that Q1 sales were on track and Mercedes-Benz sold 483,000 cars. This is up 13% from last year and reported as the company's best ever first quarter. However, he failed to mentioned declining stock values across the board.

Separately, Autobild did a poll of 6,200 Germans and two-thirds said of the Tesla Model 3 - so demand appears to be there:

“Super, I want to have one.”

Daimler, Volkswagen, and BMW have been increasingly pushing goals for electric vehicles. Reports say that it may be only due to the growing success of Tesla.

Daimler chairman, Manfred Bischoff, admitted that the company must be "faster, braver, and in some cases should veer off the beaten path." He emphasized the "balancing act" that Daimler is in, with having to move technology forward, meanwhile also keeping its reputation as a leader in traditional, premium autos.

Source: The Financial Times