Mercedes-Benz says "at least" 50 per cent of its new-car sales will be electrified by 2030, part of the automotive giant’s push to provide a carbon-neutral new passenger-car fleet by 2039.
Speaking at the launch of the brand's first true push into the battery-electric space - the EQC SUV - the company’s future Chairman of the Board of Management, Ola Källenius, said the company's Ambition2039 program would see half of all new passenger-car sales either battery electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles in just 11 years.
“We have been, in the last year or so, working intensively on what we call a sustainable business strategy which has several dimensions,” he says. “C02 is perhaps the main driver when we’re talking about the road toward zero emissions that is transforming our industry.
"We have set ourselves an ambition that in 20 years time - so less than three product lifecycles - we want to convert the Mercedes-Benz new-car fleet into C02 neutral, which is a big undertaking.
“On the road towards that, by 2030 we also aim to sell at least 50 per cent battery-electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids."
While that sounds like Mercedes is backing electric vehicles to be the dominate automotive technology when this plan concluded in 2039, it is actually just the opposite. While the company's focus today is on battery-electric vehicles, Mr Källenius says his engineers are still working on alternative efficiency options, including synthetic fuels and fuel-cell technology.
"It’s too early to say what’s going to be the dominate technology in 20 years' time. We have to rely on the ingenuity and the creativity of the engineers," he says.
"Will we have a breakthrough on the battery-electric side? Will the fuel cell at that point in time play a more important role? Will we even have a synthetic fuel, which is possible in small scale today but is not economically viable at this point in time? We remain open.
"But we have set this ambition that in 20 years time we want to have a carbon-neutral fleet for Mercedes-Benz passenger cars."
The brand's ambitions include its complex supply chain (with the majority of components that go into a new vehicle provided by outside suppliers), and so Mr Källenius says C02 targets will form part of the criteria when choosing future suppliers.
"Driving our suppliers and partners to comply with our objective of carbon neutrality is important to us. The starting point is in creating transparency. To this end we are working with organizations like CDP to assess the environmental impact of our supply chain," he says.
"Next, we are currently conducting workshops with suppliers to identify effective CO2 reduction measures. Our goal is to establish CO2 targets as one key criteria in making supplier decisions and contracts across all major commodities."
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