Dr. Z, or Dieter Zetsche, is a man of strong opinions. As CEO of Daimler, which owns Mercedes-Benz, he has to be. Everyone is now talking about his latest bold declaration about electric cars, which comes as the first plug-in electric Mercedes has launched.
Zetsche declared that nobody is actually making money by making electric cars. He went on to predict that automakers won’t be able to turn a profit on electric models in the near future. This is partly because of the billions of dollars that are being spent on research and development of the new powertrains.
Of course, many people are thinking about Tesla Motors in the light of the comments made by Daimler’s CEO. The California-based automaker collaborated with Daimler on the B-Class plug-in electric vehicle and there is talk of additional models being co-produced. Tesla technology was also sourced for the Smart Fortwo Electric Drive and A-Class E-Cell. At the same time, the German automaker has decided to sell off its interest in Tesla as industry insiders speculate that Tesla is cozying up to BMW. Could that move alone be fueling the statements from Zetsche?
Even more interesting is the fact that rivals like BMW and the Volkswagen Group have created their own electric vehicles by developing them entirely in-house. One prime example is the BMW i3, a car that has the potential to be sold in high quantities. Another aggressive move has been made with the VW e-Golf, which takes the popular hatchback and outfits it with a completely electric powertrain.
There certainly is a chance that Zetsche is making disparaging remarks about electric cars simply because his company is several steps behind its sworn German rivals. Of course, his comments have added considerable fuel to the argument that is raging in some automotive circles right now about whether electric cars have a future or not.