Like pretty much every major automaker, Daimler is preparing to launch battery electric vehicles in the next few years. However, again like many of its competitors, the German automaker remains unconvinced that batteries will see the kind of technical progress needed to make them a truly viable long-term mainstream option. Like Honda, Toyota, General Motors and Hyundai, (and to lesser degrees, Ford, Nissan and others) Daimler sees the hydrogen fuel cell as the best option for the end game.
Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche spoke with Automotive News during the Frankfurt Motor Show and acknowledged that both battery and fuel cell electric vehicles need infrastructure. The fuel cell doesn't have the range or re-energizing time constraints that a battery does. Both directions will require work to get the cost down comparable to existing vehicles, but Zetsche seems unconvinced that batteries will ever get there. Zetsche is also confident that a hydrogen fueling network will be put in place in Europe in the coming years.
Zetsche isn't declaring a winner yet, but highlights the modularization that vehicle electrification brings with it. Because battery and fuel cell vehicles all use the same motors and power electronics for propulsion, it is possible to follow parallel paths while sharing much of the underlying technology.