22 Feb 2021, 12:29
Julian Wettengel

Daimler considers earlier exit from combustion engine – media report

Handelsblatt / Financial Times

German carmaker Daimler is considering an earlier end to the combustion engine for its Mercedes brand than the currently envisaged 2039, unnamed sources told business daily Handelsblatt. The board of directors is assessing scenarios, according to which Mercedes could offer only new cars with electric drives five or eight years earlier. Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Mercedes-Benz AG Ola Källenius did not confirm this in an interview with the newspaper, but said he could “well imagine” making intermediate targets for e-car sales for 2025 and 2030 more ambitious.

A day earlier, the Financial Times had reported that Källenius said Daimler would not prematurely phase out sales of combustion engine cars, because petrol and diesel models are a “cash machine” that will help to fund future electric models. While Daimler’s Mercedes brand has committed to having a carbon-neutral fleet by 2039, the company has not named a date by which it will stop selling cars with pipe-tail emissions, wrote FT. Källenius’ comments came after Ford pledged to stop selling combustion engine cars in Europe by 2030, and Volvo Cars has also said it expects to be fully electric worldwide by 2030, while General Motors - which no longer sells cars in Europe - plans to sell only emissions-free passenger models by 2035.

Many carmakers, policymakers and green mobility experts argue that shifting to electric cars is the quickest and most efficient way to lower transport emissions. But the German car industry association VDA and many suppliers say a sole focus on electric mobility is misguided. They argue that synthetic fuels and hydrogen fuel cells will also be needed to clean up transport, even though they require much more energy because of conversion losses. From an industry perspective, synthetic fuels are a tempting proposal because they could be used in existing infrastructure and combustion engines, thereby throwing a lifeline to companies specialising in conventional engine technology. The country's engineering federation VDMA recently warned that future EU emission rules for cars could mean the abrupt end of combustion engines and put many jobs at risk.

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