Zetsche did say that reducing greenhouse-gas emissions from the transportation sector was "necessary," and his company has made plans to do just that. Daimler representatives said at the Paris Motor Show earlier this year that Smart and Mercedes-Benz both planned to debut more than 10 electric vehicles within the next decade, and that plug-ins may account for as much as 25 percent of Mercedes-Benz's sales by then. Moreover, Dr. Thomas Weber, Head of Group Research and Mercedes-Benz Cars Development, said in June that Mercedes could be selling as many as 100,000 EVs a year by the end of the decade. Last month, Mercedes-Benz announced that its EQ electric-SUV concept would go on sale by 2020, and that the Bremen factory that's producing the model will broaden its plug-in vehicle production further.
Zetsche's cautious support notwithstanding, the German government appears to be doing its own part to reduce emissions from the country's light-duty vehicles. Earlier this year, Germany enacted a plan that provides as much as 4,000 euros ($4,270) in perks for people who buy new electric vehicles, with German automakers agreeing to foot about half of the estimated $1.4 billion bill. German lawmakers had also floated the idea of a 10-year moratorium on electric-vehicle taxes for cars purchased before 2020.