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Following a drop to third place among luxury automakers, the CEO of Mercedes parent company Daimler is setting his eyes on an ambitious target of regaining the top spot in 2020.
The future of green motoring is far closer than you might think. At least it is if you’re a believe of Mercedes-Benz CEO Dieter Zetsche.
In a recent interview with Motor Trend, the former TV personality for Chrysler (when under Daimler’s ownership) Dr. Z says that, “We see another one or two decades of dominance for the internal combustion engine.” Yup, that’s it.
The timeline is a bit shocking, although not completely off-base with predictions from other automakers, with Hyundai Motor America CEO John Krafic previously commenting that he expects the automaker’s fleet to be 15-20 percent hybrids by 2015, with 5 percent of all models fully electric or fuel cell.
Still, Zetsche warns, “Nobody will make money in the next five years with alternative powertrains.” That’s a comment Toyota might disagree with, however, being the only automaker to have success at selling hybrids en masse.
At the recent Frankfurt Auto Show, Mercedes unveiled its F125 concept, a vehicle that celebrates 125 years since Mercedes invented the car, while pointing the way to the brand’s future. a hydrogen fuel cell powered car, the F125 features an electric motor at each wheel and makes 231-hp to deliver a 0-60 time of 4.9 seconds, with a range of 620 miles.
The mass-production of green-technology alternative powertrains depends a great deal on China, says the Benz boss, commenting that the country is making a push in the electric car industry as it sees limited oil supplies as unable to support future growth of the car market in the country. It’s all a question of timing says Zetsche, admitting that perhaps his projections are a bit optimistic and commenting that while EV car development and infrastrucutre growth has been slower in China than initially expected. Still, MB has faith in China’s green car goals, due mostly to the fact that it doesn’t have much other choice. Necessity is the mother of invention, or so the saying goes.
GALLERY: Mercedes F125 Concept
Remember Maybach? Of course not, we’re in a recession. But back in the day, when the grass was green and birds sang sweetly in the forests, Mercedes’ experiment with ultra-luxury was quietly shuttered after people decided that two-tone paint wasn’t compelling enough a reason to buy what looked like a melted S-Class owned by Simon Cowell.
So now, Mercedes-Benz is quietly weighing their options. They could turn Maybach into a sub-brand of Mercedes, like AMG or Designo: more in line within the company than as a separate division. They could ask Aston Martin to build the next Maybach—the Brits have already created four concepts based on the S-Class for Benz’s consideration. Or, they could take it out back and shutter it.
Dieter “Dr. Z” Zetsche, CEO of Daimler, admitted that a partnership with Aston Martin was in the talks. And, the Daimler board need to reach a conclusion on Maybach by July 1st, the next time they are scheduled to meet. Spokespeople for both companies refused to comment.
Hey, after all, nouveau riche Beijingers and oil sheiks have needs, too.
[Source: Automotive News]
In a shockingly forthright appraisal of the Chinese auto market, Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche laid out the harsh reality for the Chinese auto market, stating that petroleum-powered vehicles are not sustainable due to the massive demand, and that electric vehicles are imperative.
Speaking at an event in Beijing, Zetsche remarked “If you look at the population and the growth here, you quickly reach the conclusion that it would be unthinkable to provide these people with traditional gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles. There just isn’t enough oil for that. So there has to be personal transportation that is not dependent on oil and is CO2-free to the greatest possible extent. In this regard, BYD is clearly a front runner.“
Daimler is conveniently partnered with BYD in an electric vehicle alliance, and Zetsche singled out the taxi market as the most promising sector for any potential EV. With over 1 billion people, China is an obvious candidate for EVs, but how long will it be until the focus of a similar campaign is directed at North America?
[Source: Automotive News]
Infiniti to get 4-Cylinder and 6-Cylinder Mercedes Engines as part of deal
At a press conference earlier today a new partnership between Mercedes parent company Daimler and Renault/Nissan was announced that will see all three automakers working together to develop new products, while reducing overall costs. The partnership will see the German, French and Japanese automakers work together on future small car projects, engines and commercial vehicles.
The alliance also includes each automaker taking a share in the other with Daimler taking a 3.1 percent share in Nissan and Renault, while the Japanese and French automakers will each take a 1.55 percent share in Daimler.
Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche said the asset sharing was “symbolic” and commented that unlike the unsuccessful deal with Chrysler, this one focuses on shared products first. He even confirmed that, as rumored, the two automakers have been working together for some time already.
Zetsche commented on how the deal will see initial benefits for Daimler in the small car area, while Renault CEO Ghosn said that he expects to save 2 billion Euros over the next five years in cost reductions – apart from the new revenue the partnership will generate.
In terms of specifics, the two automakers will work to co-develop the next generation of the Smart ForTwo and Renault Twingo, both of which are due out in 2013. Both models will be offered with electric engines at launch and new 3-cylinder and 4-cylinder gasoline and diesel engines will be developed for use in both vehicles.
According to a statement released by Nissan, the automakers will also work to develop the new line of premium small cars for Mercedes-Benz – presumably the A-Class and B-Class.
The Mercedes connection will also help Nissan’s luxury brand, with Infiniti getting 4-cylinder and 6-cylinder gasoline and diesel engines that are to be used across the product line in the U.S., China and other markets. There’s no word if the 4-cylinder will appear in a rumored compact front-drive Infiniti model, but Infiniti does expect the new engines will help the brand grow more quickly. This move will, however, allow costs savings at Daimler due to economies of scale.
As for the commercial vehicle side, Renault will develop a new commercial van for use by Mercedes. There was no mention, however, if Nissan could get any help with its next generation of pickup trucks by using older Mercedes truck technology.
Both automakers have also said they are open to the possibility of more development and product sharing in the years to come.
[Source: Automotive News]
What’s the one car Michael Schumacher cannot pass? The official Formula One Safety Car, of course! That’s the riddle Mercedes-Benz’ Dr. Dieter Zetsche asked before introducing the SLS AMG F1 Safety Car at the Geneva Auto Show.
The SLS AMG Safety Car then drove to the stage and its gullwing doors opened up to reveal the driver, Michael Schumacher and his passenger, Grand Prix teammate Nico Rosberg.
The SLS AMG at every round of the 2010 F1 season, ready to deploy whenever accidents or bad weather make it too dangerous to race.
The official safety car needs to be fast enough to lead the F1 grid at a high enough speed to prevent the race cars’ tires and brakes from cooling down or their engines from overheating. With a 6.3L v8 engine claiming 571 hp and 479.4 ft-lb. of torque, the SLS AMG should be up to the task.
As impressive as the standard-production SLS AMG is, the Safety Car receives a number of updates to fit its role. Apart from the F1 logos and integrated television camera, the Safety Car is distinguishable by its carbon-fiber mirrors and a new carbon-fiber hood. The rear aerofoil pops up when the car reaches 93 mph, and together with the rear diffuser, provides added downforce.
Inside, the Safety Car is equipped with monitors and a radio system to help driver Bernd Maylander and co-driver Pete Tibbetts see and hear what’s going on in the race. A second interior mirror is installed so Tibbetts can keep an eye on the F1 cars following the Safety Car. The central display on the instrument cluster and on the glove compartment provide the same marshalling signals the F1 drivers see in their cockpits.
The SLS AMG Safety Car will be joined by another Mercedes-Benz at F1 races. The C63 AMG Estate returns in 2010 as the official F1 Medical Car, ready to respond to race emergencies.
Gallery: Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Formula One Safety Car
Fleet average set at 35.5 mpg by 2016
Yesterday President Obama announced a new proposal being put forward to increase fuel-economy standards across the board. If enacted, the legislation would see the fleet average for passenger vehicles rise to 35.5 mpg by 2016.
Currently automakers are facing an 8 percent increase in fuel-economy standards that would see fleet averages for light-vehicles (cars and trucks) at 27.3 mpg for 2011. Cars would have to achieve a fleet average of 30.2 mpg by that date.
The new legislation would see increases of 5 percent annually after that, with a fleet average of 35.5 mpg by 2016.
President Obama made the announcement at the White House yesterday and was joined by representatives of 10 supporting automakers and the UAW. In attendance were GM CEO Fritz Henderson, Ford’s Alan Mullaly, Chrysler’s Bob Nardelli, Toyota’s Jim Lentz, Honda’s John Mendel, BMW’s Friedrich Eichiner, Nissan’s Dominique Thormann, Daimler’s Dieter Zetsche, Mazda’s Jim O’Sullivan, Volkswagen’s Stefan Jacoby and the UAW’s Ron Gettelfinger.
If enacted the proposal would reduce America’s fuel-consumption by 1.8 billion barrels of oil.
The agreement was arrived at with the consent of California, which will cease to have its own fuel-economy standards.
The cost of achieving the new fuel-economy standard is expected to be roughly $600 per vehicle, a tab that will no doubt be passed along to the consumer.
[Source: Automotive News]