Daimler sees place for diesel alongside electric vehicles in its future

25 October 2017

Daimler sees place for diesel alongside electric vehicles in its future

25 October 2017

Like other German manufacturers, Daimler is looking towards electrification as it aims to move away from diesel power, following the Dieselgate scandal and negative press surrounding the fuel ever since.

At a recent Electric Vehicle Symposium in Stuttgart, the company’s research and development expert Ola Källenius gave a detailed presentation of Daimler’s drive strategy. In this, diesel still plays an important role, although hybrid and electric vehicles (EVs) will continue to grow within the ranges, supplanting traditional engine sales. The company is also looking at hydrogen as an alternative fuel source, cementing plans for a low and zero emission range of vehicles from the company.

Speaking to German publication Automobilwoche, Källenius suggested that while electric vehicles are important, they are not the be all and end all of the company’s plan. ‘[They are] an essential part of the plan, but not the only one,’ he says. ‘Let's not forget our plug-in hybrids: Both the new S560e, the GLC F-CELL with fuel cell drive and the performance hybrid study Mercedes-AMG Project ONE use plug-in electric, but not exclusively. We will continue to build our plug-in hybrid portfolio in the future. But this is not all: With the introduction of the 48-volt electrical system in combination with starter generators, we now introduce electric drive components on a wider front, thus increasing the efficiency of our existing internal combustion engines.’

The company is continuing to pursue a three-way strategy focusing on internal combustion engines, hybrids and electric drive cars using either a battery or hydrogen fuel cell. Källenius suggested that Daimler will not simply abandon the traditional engine, especially diesel, a move Volvo has made with the announcement it will only sell hybrid and electric cars from 2019. ‘I am quite sure that diesel will go on for a long time. In the year 2025, we see a sales share of up to 25% for purely battery-electric cars. This means that at least 75% will continue to have an internal combustion engine on board, which is, of course, increasingly electrified.’

In defending diesel, Källenius said: ‘We still need the diesel and will continue to push forward the development. It offers advantages in terms of CO2 emissions and is still relevant for freight transport as well as in numerous markets, especially in Europe, for good reason. With our newly developed premium diesel family, we have proven that the diesel can be clean. In the OM 654 engine, for example, we reduced the NOX values ​​in real driving operation by up to 80%.’

The company will launch its first full electric vehicle, the EQC, in 2018. This will be an SUV model, and will kick start a new range of EQ vehicles across Mercedes-Benz and Smart brands.

Daimler will also invest more than €1 billion in the development of a global battery production network. The company has already announced plans to build a gigafactory at its Kamenz site in Germany, and additional plants in Stuttgart, Beijing and Alabama in the US. Overall, the company hopes it can produce a million batteries per year once these facilities are running.

Audi recently announced its plans for electrification of its fleet, while Volkswagen (VW) aims to have 80 new EV models available by 2025.

Meanwhile, Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Corporation (MFTBC), part of Daimler Trucks, announced it will electrify its complete range of trucks and buses in upcoming years. The brand also unveiled E-FUSO at the Tokyo Motor Show. As further proof of this strategic move, MFTBC celebrated the world-premiere of its all-electric heavy-duty truck concept with a range of up to 350 kilometres. The truck – named E-FUSO Vision One - marks the top end of the electrification path of the company’s portfolio in the upcoming years. This initiative will be backed by access to Daimler know-how in the fields of battery and charging technology.

Photograph courtesy of Daimler