The revolution started by Tesla and Elon Musk is gaining momentum. When the Model S hit the streets in 2012, it was a curiosity. Many scoffed at the idea of electric cars and predicted their swift demise. Five years later, charging infrastructure is exploding, more people are aware of the advantages of electric cars, and the world’s automakers are rushing to get more of them into showrooms.
Mercedes, led by Dieter Zetsche, owner of the grandest mustache in the auto business, says it is accelerating its electric car plans. Instead of having 10 models in showrooms by 2025, it now plans to do so by 2022. The three-year difference is what happens when the Tesla Model S starts outselling the mighty Mercedes S-Class. Moving the timetable forward will require a “fundamental” shift in the company’s business model and require an investment of $10,000,000 according to Daimler Chairman Manfred Bischoff, who addressed a shareholders meeting in Berlin on Wednesday, TechCrunch reports.
Meeting ever tighter EU emissions regulations is part of the reason for the acceleration. Following the Volkswagen diesel cheating debacle, Europeans are less inclined to buy diesel-powered cars, which are a large part of Mercedes sales on the Old Continent. The move will also promote Mercedes’ plans to compete in the world of autonomous driving and urban mobility.
Workers at Audi are also pushing for more electric cars in the product mix. Audi has plans to assemble electric cars at its factory in Neckarsulm, but this week the union representing 43,000 workers at Audi’s main factory in Ingolstadt asked management to consider building electric cars at that facility as well.
“Our core factory must be prepared further for the future,” Audi’s top labor representative, Peter Mosch, told a gathering of 7,000 workers on Wednesday at the Ingolstadt plant. “None of our colleagues must fall off the conveyer belt as we move into the future,” deputy works council chief Max Waecker said, according to a report by Autoblog.
Audi plans to release its first all-electric car, the e-tron quattro SUV, (Audi really likes spelling its models in all lower case letters) by 2020. Mosch, who sits on parent VW’s supervisory board, asked top management to provide specific information as to how the growing shift to electric cars and digital services will affect employment at Audi, which has 88,000 workers globally.