Inventor of the internal combustion engine and German multinational auto group Daimler has declared that it has no current plans to develop fossil fuel engines, as it shifts its focus to electric drivetrains and battery development.
It’s a massive statement from the company that encompasses Mercedes-Benz as well as several truck brands including Daimler Trucks, Mercedes-Benz Vans, Daimler Buses, generating 167.4 billion euros ($A272.7 billion) in revenue in 2018.
The announcement was so momentous it even drew a message of congratulations from CEO and founder of EV pioneer Tesla, Elon Musk.
“Electric is the future! Congratulations Daimler!!” said Musk via social media channel Twitter this morning (Australian time).
“Very meaningful action by the company that invented the internal combustion engine. People will remember this day. Respect.”
Very meaningful action by the company that invented the internal combustion engine. People will remember this day. Respect.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 19, 2019
The news of the shift in focus for Daimler came from Daimler development chief Markus Schäfer via German auto news site Auto Motor und Sport.
According to reports from the German news site, “the main focus is now on the electrification, electric drives and battery development. It is also about shifting capacity from combustion engine and transmission development to new development areas”.
With the latest generation of internal combustion engines (ICE) now being brought to market including a new inline 6-cylinder engine for E and S-class vehicles and SUVs, there are no new plans for further ICE development Schäfer said.
Although a figure for investment into electrification was not given by Schäfer, overall budgeting for research and development will remain high.
Musk’s response to this report is unlike what would be expected from most competitor CEOs but not at all unexpected.
The Tesla founder has always made it clear that this intention for Tesla was to disrupt the world of internal combustion engine vehicles, and welcomes the competition.
In December 2018 after American auto giant GM announced it would begin a transition to electric mobility, Musk told CBS News that, “The whole point of Tesla is to accelerate the advent of electric vehicles…sustainable transport and trying to help the environment.”
Mercedes-Benz has already started its shift to electric vehicles, with its first all-electric vehicle, the EQC SUV due to be released very soon in Australia.
Production of the EQC for European markets started in May 2019, with pricing announced by Mercedes-Benz starting from €71,281 ($A116,093 at today’s rates).
While the EQC has been slated for a third quarter release in Australia, Mercedes-Benz Australia product communications manager Ryan Lewis tells The Driven that while there has been a slight delay a release date will be announced in coming weeks.
Other electric vehicles planned by Mercedes-Benz include an all-electric, futuristic sedan based on its Vision EQS Concept unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor show earlier in September.
The carmaker also has plans for an EQV electric people mover, and more recently an electric version of the GLB crossover has been hinted at (and apparently spotted being tested recently in Europe) that will be known as the EQB.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She has been writing about electric vehicles since 2018, and has a keen interest in the role that zero-emissions transport has to play in sustainability. She has participated in podcasts such as Download This Show with Marc Fennell and Shirtloads of Science with Karl Kruszelnicki and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum. Bridie also owns a Tesla Model 3 and has it available for hire on evee.com.au.