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Daimler Betting Big on Hydrogen Fuel Cells

China could be critical electric vehicle market, says CEO Zetsche.

by on Apr.10, 2014

The Mercedes-Benz F-Cell hydrogen car.

Daimler AG’s top executives believe hydrogen fuel cells hold the key to developing a broader range of electric vehicles in the future.

Dieter Zetsche, Daimler AG’s top executive and head of the Mercedes-Benz Car Group, told shareholders at the company’s annual meeting in Berlin the German automaker is committed to electric vehicle technology.  China, the world’s single largest car market, now has plans for putting millions of EVs on the road by the end of the decade.

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“With our Chinese partner BYD, we have developed an electric vehicle in China for China,” he said. The Denza, which was developed with BYD, will debut at the Beijing Auto Show later this month, he added.  “China plans to have five million electric vehicles on the road by 2020 and we’re ready to help,” Zetsche added.

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Daimler AG Expecting Banner Year for Cars, Trucks

Despite strong competition, Zetsche says ‘situation is good.’

by on Apr.09, 2014

The 2015 Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG 4Matic Coupe loses 140 pounds but gains 4x horsepower. It's vehicles like this that has Daimler Chairman Dieter Zetsche expecting a big year.

Daimler AG predicts a big increase in earnings this year despite intense competition from its rivals, Audi and BMW.

“We are beginning 2014 at the same pace with which we finished 2013,” Dieter Zetsche, chairman of Daimler board of management and head of Mercedes-Benz Cars told shareholders at the company’s annual meeting.

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“We also review our plans critically,” he said. “But they seem to have been successful. We will keep our foot on the accelerator.” (more…)

Russian Auto Industry Could Be Hurt by Ukraine Crisis

Ford cuts jobs, production..

by on Apr.04, 2014

Workers on the line at the Ford plant in St. Petersburg, where 700 jobs are being cut.

The temperature might finally be warming up after the frigid Russian winter, but the country’s auto industry is suddenly feeling a big chill.

Russia has been the target of increasing sanctions in the wake of its disputed annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula and the threat that Russian President Vladimir Putin might send troops into the neighboring country in an expanded land grab.  That has led to a flood of capital leaving the country and signs that the crisis could strike hard the Russian economy.

The crisis is causing “uncertainty in the marketplace,” warns consulting firm Accenture.

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Ford sent a chilling signal this week when it announced plans to trim 950 jobs at its two Russian plants, including 700 full-timers at its primary facility in St. Petersburg – almost one in five of its employees in the country. The maker is blaming an already weak economy, as well as the weak Russian ruble, but observers warn that this could be just the first sign of a serious setback for the country’s auto industry – especially if the Ukrainian crisis drags on, or rose, escalates.

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Daimler, BYD Launching New Battery Car

by on Feb.27, 2014

The new Daimler-BYD joint venture will launch its first battery-car concept, the Denza NEV, in Beijing.

Mercedes’ parent Daimler AG plans to launch an all-new battery-electric vehicle it has developed as part of a joint venture with China’s BYD. To be sold through the new Denza brand, it will make its debut in concept form at the upcoming Beijing Motor Show.

The show car will be called the NEV, short for New Energy Vehicle.  The hatchback will use a pure battery-electric design with its batteries mounted under the floor and its electric motor driving the front wheels.

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The German maker provided the basic vehicle architecture for the Denza NEV concept, along with key componentry, including the safety system.  BYD, already one of the key players in the emerging Chinese battery-car market, supplied the underlying drive system.

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VW Eyes Heftier Role in Heavy Trucks

Rivalry increases as VW poaches a senior Daimler executive.

by on Feb.25, 2014

VW wants to take complete control of Scania.

As it launches an $8 billion bid for the remaining shares of the Swedish truck maker Scania, Volkswagen AG also has recruited a former top executive from Daimler AG to take over its commercial vehicle business, starting next year.

Andreas Renschler abruptly and unexpectedly quit as head of manufacturing and procurement at the Mercedes-Benz car group last month and will now join VW AG’s board of management as head of its commercial vehicle group on February 1, 2015.

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Renschler’s resignation was considered particularly surprising since he was one of a small group of executives considered as a possible candidate to succeed Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche.

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Smart Not Planning U.S. Version of ForFour 4-Seater

Betting a new version of the ForTwo can do the job.

by on Jan.22, 2014

Daimler AG's Smart brand will remain a one-model brand in the U.S. for the time being with the ForTwo.

Desperate to replace its aging ForTwo model and expand its appeal, Daimler AG’s Smart brand will nonetheless skip the U.S. market when it comes time to launch a second, larger minicar.

The troubled brand’s top executive told Automotive News she doesn’t think the cost of upgrading the planned ForFour model would be justified by what are likely to be modest sales, at best, in the American market.

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While a final decision has yet to be made, the likelihood that there’ll be no U.S. version of the ForFour is leaving some observers scratching their heads, especially when compared to what Smart’s competitors have been doing to expand their own appeal. (more…)

Supreme Court Rules in Favor of Daimler AG

Ruling prevents U.S. suit against maker for Argentine violations.

by on Jan.17, 2014

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Daimler AG could not be sued for alleged human rights violations under the Alien Tort Statute of 1789.

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in favor of Daimler AG in a contentious case involving human rights violations in Argentina during the 1970s and 1980s.

In a unanimous decision, the court ruled Daimler cannot be sued in California for injuries allegedly caused by conduct of its Argentinian subsidiary when that conduct took place entirely outside of the United States. The ruling addressed legal issues surrounding the case, Bauman v. Daimler AG, and not the facts or substance of the charges.

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“We are very pleased with the Supreme Court’s unanimous conclusion that Daimler is not subject to jurisdiction in California in this case. The plaintiffs’ accusations are groundless, and today’s opinion concludes the prolonged litigation in the United States,” Daimler said in a statement. (more…)

Daimler’s Zetsche Not Sold on Cells

CEO more optimistic about self-driving cars in the future.

by on Jan.14, 2014

Daimler AG CEO Dieter Zetsche is not bullish on the near-term future of fuel cell cars and trucks.

Drivers looking to jump into their fuel cell-powered car or truck to run errands are going to have to live with disappointment for at least a decade, Daimler AG Chief Executive Officer Dieter Zetsche said during a round table meeting with reporters at the North American International Auto Show today.

“There are cost problems with the industrial process for making fuel cells,” he told reporters during the session. “That’s why we are working with Ford and Nissan to take out the cost. But it’s a (chicken) and egg question. You need volume to drive down the costs.

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“There are also issues with the infrastructure,” he said, noting that the hydrogen fueling stations necessary for fuel cells are still few and a far between. (more…)

Daimler Third-Quarter Earnings Rocket up 50 Percent

by on Oct.24, 2013

Daimler AG reported a 50% increase in earnings in the third quarter with Mercedes-Benz sales accounting for much of the increase.

Daimler AG saw it earning jump 50% in the third quarter as units sales increased by 13% on record sales by Mercedes-Benz.

In the third quarter of 2013, Daimler AG net income reached 1,897 million euros, compared with 1,238 million euros in the same period a year ago. Earnings per share were 1.72 euros versus 1.06 in the third quarter of 2012.

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On the basis of current market assessments, Daimler also said it expect earnings before interest and taxes to total 7.5 billion euros for full-year 2013. (more…)

Daimler, Nissan-Renault CEOs Tout Cooperation – But Leave Key Question Answered

Alliance goes global as it rapidly expands.

by on Sep.11, 2013

Daimler Chairman Dieter Zetsche and Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn meet in Frankfurt to update the media on their expanding partnership.

In what has become a regular, if recent, tradition, Daimler Chairman Dieter Zetsche and Renault-Nissan Alliance CEO Carlos Ghosn came together at the Frankfurt Motor Show, sharing a stage to describe the increasing cooperation between the three automakers.

But perhaps the biggest question the two executives were expected to face was left unanswered, Zetsche and Ghosn insisting they had not locked down widely anticipated plans to jointly produce luxury cars at a new Nissan plant soon to open in Mexico.

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When the French-Japanese-German partnership was unveiled in April 2010, the makers set to work on three projects largely focused on Europe.  Since then, however, they have brought the count to 10, with others under discussion.

“There is no limit to the cooperation” possible, Ghosn told reporters during the hour-long session, though he did add one caveat.  He called “unacceptable…anything that would lead to confusion” between the various brands.

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