Former Daimler CEO praises Tesla, but says Germans remain permanently ahead

Former Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche recently shared his thoughts on the electric car revolution and the part played by American electric car maker Tesla. Speaking with Handelsblatt, the former Daimler executive discussed what he believes are Elon Musk’s strengths, Tesla’s accomplishments, and why German automakers will always be ahead. 

Now retired and without commitments to a specific automaker, Zetsche freely praised Elon Musk, stating that he adores the daring Tesla CEO. Part of this is due to Musk’s initiatives, which are centered on pushing humanity forward. “Elon has a mission, he wants to solve the problems of humanity,” he said, adding that the American electric car maker has done a great service to electromobility with its “absurdly quick” EVs. 

That being said, the former Daimler CEO noted that he still has reservations about Tesla and its future. Tesla has gone all-in on battery technology, and it has pursued massive projects such as Gigafactory 1 in Nevada to secure it. Zetsche noted that he believes it’s wrong to rely on a single type of technology, especially as batteries themselves are already changing very quickly. 

Thus, despite his admiration for Elon Musk, Zetsche believes that established automakers will be permanently ahead. Volkswagen, BMW, and Daimler are all making big moves on electromobility. Daimler, for one, is looking to transition half of Mercedes-Benz’s vehicles to electric by 2030, and the company intends to abandon further internal combustion engine developments.

To set the record straight, the ex-CEO stated that fuel cell vehicles that are powered with hydrogen might be futile, particularly as they lack the necessary infrastructure that would allow long trips. This is something that is being addressed by the Tesla Supercharger Network and other systems such as IONITY, which provide rapid-charging services for EVs. 

Inasmuch as the former CEO’s statements come from a place of authority considering his vast experience in the auto sector, Zetsche appears to have missed the fact that Tesla is already in the process of future-proofing its battery technology. Apart from constant improvements that are implemented on its battery cells at Gigafactory 1, Tesla also appears to be well into the development of its next-generation batteries, as evidenced by its recent acquisition of companies such as Maxwell Technologies. 

Daimler has already started its moves towards electromobility, with the company releasing the all-electric EQC under its Mercedes-Benz brand. While the vehicle has been well-received by reviewers, Daimler has hit some challenges with the vehicle. The company has recalled a number of its EQC units due to a fault that could cause the all-electric SUV to stall, or worse, affect the capability of the vehicle to be controlled, leading to a heightened risk of a crash.

H/T Alex Voigt.

Former Daimler CEO praises Tesla, but says Germans remain permanently ahead
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