Mercedes-Benz is one of the most recognisable names in automobiles. The iconic three-pointed star has come to mean quality, excellence, comfort and value.
When the German automotive giant acts, in other words, it has a lot of impact on consumers and carmakers alike.
So recent comments by Markus Schaefer, Development Chief of Daimler (the company that owns Mercedes), should have a lot of weight.
He told Auto Motor und Sport that the company is ditching development of internal combustion engines — those which run on petrol and diesel. It will not spend more money developing the next generation of gas guzzlers; instead, it will throw its huge R&D budget at electric engines.
Move to green
This obviously isn’t coming out of left-field: the automotive industry has been so eager in recent years to prove its ‘green’ credentials that enormous companies, notably Volkswagen, have been cheating on emissions tests. Mercedes was no different, with Daimler ordered to recall 60,000 Mercedes-Benz models believed to have been equipped with emissions-cheating software.
The change is also a calculated assessment of the amount of time it takes to develop a new diesel or petrol engine, compared to how the market is advancing. Nine countries have said they will ban internal combustion engines in the next decade.
So Daimler has decided it’s cheaper to invest money in making engines they currently have electric, than to continually tweak internal combustion engines that people will not purchase.
Perhaps it’s only a matter of time before electric vehicles (EVs) rule the roost. According to Motor und Sport, Daimler itself says that the car will “change more in the next ten years than in the 100 years before.”
“Engineers are working every day to improve electric drives and are also looking for technically even better alternatives every day,” the article reads. “The exit from the combustion engine development is a clear signal for the development and not for the end of the car.”
Commenting on the developments, car website Electrek says that the car makers need to “rapidly” adjust their production investments and accelerate the conversion of internal combustion vehicle production to electric vehicle production. They say this will reduce the cost of electric vehicles, and supply demand at the tipping point of an EV revolution, which they believe will happen “within the next 5 years.”