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March 29, 2017

Daimler hastens EV launches

Daimler's Mercedes-Benz is speeding up its launch of battery electric vehicles.

Daimler's Mercedes-Benz is speeding up its launch of battery electric vehicles.

"Daimler's corporate strategy focuses on emission-free driving. In the coming years, the company will invest EUR10bn in the expansion of its electric portfolio and will bring more than 10 new electric cars in series by 2022," Daimler CEO and Mercedes Cars head Dieter Zetsche said in a statement prepared for the annual shareholders meeting.

"On the way to emission-free driving, all available means will be utilised to reduce CO2 emissions. For this reason, efficient combustion engines will continue to be a significant element of the solution during the transitional period. A key bridge technology along the way to electric mobility is plug-in hybrid drive, with which Mercedes-Benz already has eight models on the market.

"The next technology leap will soon follow with the new S-Class as a plug-in hybrid. With the latest lithium-ion technology, its range will increase to around 50km [30 miles] depending on the style of driving and external factors. Further models will follow."

Zetsche said at the annual shareholders' meeting: "We believe in the simple principle: Alternative drive systems must be attractive drive systems."

Bloomberg said the EV timetable was three years shorter than announced at the Paris show in September.

"We want to shape the profound transformation of the automotive industry from the forefront," Daimler chairman Manfred Bischoff said in a statement at the meeting in Berlin. "Further fundamental changes will be required for Daimler to remain successful", as the industry adjusts to cars running on electric motors and capable of driving themselves.

Bloomberg noted German prosecutors were investigating the automaker's employees over diesel manipulation allegations.

Daimler is "naturally" cooperating with authorities on the diesel probe, Bloomberg quoted Zetsche as saying in his first public comments on the matter since the investigation became public on 22 March. He repeated that Germany's motor authority and transport ministry had found no violations in their tests of Daimler vehicles.

"Among development teams, especially in diesel, there are signs there's less to do as electrification is starting to have an impact," Roman Zitzelsberger, a union representative on Daimler's supervisory board, told Bloomberg. "We found there are fewer follow-up requests and general degree of activity."

"It is necessary to do one thing without stopping with the other," said Zetsche. "That's why we are strengthening both: the new and the old."

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