In the 1880’s Gottlieb Wilhelm Daimler, who was co-founder of the Daimler Motor Group, parent company of several important automotive brands like Mercedes-Benz and Smart, developed several engine designs. The company he founded is now one of largest automakers in the world, and its reputation rests soundly on high quality engineering of engines and other aspects of cars and trucks.
According to a German automotive news magazine, Auto Motor und Sport, Daimler development chief Markus Schaefer says the company’s focus is now on electric drive trains. They’ve just finished refreshing their range of internal combustion engine designs. The main focus of their R&D engineering team is now on electrification, electric drives, and battery development.
As if to confirm this, a simple browse around the Daimler Global Media website (where Daimler publishes information meant to be picked up by Journalists) shows item after item focusing on hybrid that, electric that, and (sigh) a few hydrogen things. For instance Daimler Trucks has a collaboration with a Chinese company on batteries. And Daimler is delivering electric buses to places in Europe. And Daimler’s theme at the Frankfurt Auto Show is that “Desirable contemporary luxury has to be sustainable.”
Meanwhile, in the USA, the Trump Administration is doing its best to scuttle the move to electric vehicles, Daimler is voting with its feet in a big way. This couldn’t be any clearer of a signal that the wave of automotive technology development is heading to electric vehicles.
Daimler has to be recognizing what many are pointing out. The price of electric drive trains is falling rapidly, and is heading to a point where an electric car will simply be cheaper than the gasoline or diesel car.
That’s a big claim and the only proof I have to offer is the price for a 60+ kiloWatt-hour 200+ mile range electric car. Not that long ago that combination meant handing Tesla Motors close to $80,000 to buy a Tesla Model S. Nowadays several automakers are offering this combination for close to a $35,000 MSRP. (at least Chevy, Hyundai, Kia, Nissan and Tesla)
This is positive solid proof of an improving price-for-performance. We can expect that in a few years there will be another round of price-for-performance improvements as newer battery technology and manufacturing efficiencies are developed.
That may evaporate so-called price premium for electric vehicles. Since gasoline is a more expensive fuel than electricity, electric vehicles are innately the financially better option.
Surely Daimler’s management is smart enough to see all that. That they have confirmed a switch in focus away from engines to electric drive trains is proof that Daimler is that smart.
According to Auto Motor und Sport, it’s not just Daimler. Volkswagen and Volvo have both announced a switch in focus from engines to electric motors.
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