With new greenhouse gas emissions standard signed into law, the automotive industry is poised to undergo more change in the next 10 years than it has in the previous half century, said Mercedes-Benz USA executive Sascha Simon during a speech to young entrepreneurs at the Summit Series in Washington DC. However, he stressed that there is no "silver bullet" that will solve America's transportation problems and its reliance on gasoline.
Sascha Simon, manager of advanced product planning for Mercedes-Benz USA (MBUSA), said, "There are many buzzwords that spur the public imagination and have been touted as the best or even the only solution: plug-in hybrids, electric vehicles, power grids, charging stations, lithium-ion batteries. All of these can serve the goal of creating a sustainable future transportation system. However, the notion that we all will drive short-range battery electric vehicles is not a realistic one."
Simon explained that many drivers need and demand larger vehicles that can travel long distances. Commercial fleets especially will not be able to rely on batteries alone. For this reason, Mercedes-Benz is investing significant resources in hydrogen electric technology, which has the potential to significantly reduce dependence on fossil fuels without constraining customer expectations. The company plans to complement its current portfolio of BlueTEC clean diesel SUVs and hybrid offerings with hydrogen electric vehicles at the end of this year to start introducing customers to the technology and gain real-world experience.
However, according to Simon, infrastructure challenges are preventing the technology from being adopted on a large scale. He suggested that this new generation of buyers would play a large role in shaping the face of transportation going forward.
"The road to zero emissions is not necessarily as long as most people think. The speed of progress depends on government climate change programs and carbon fuel supplies, but just as important is the customers' willingness to adopt and embrace alternative fuel vehicles. We also need new and innovative thinking to increase the number of suppliers for these new technologies," Simon said.
About Mercedes-Benz USA
Mercedes-Benz USA (MBUSA), headquartered in Montvale, New Jersey, is responsible for the distribution, marketing and customer service for all Mercedes-Benz and Maybach products in the United States. MBUSA offers drivers the most diverse line-up in the luxury segment with 12 model lines ranging from the sporty C-Class to the flagship S-Class sedans and CL coupes.
MBUSA is also responsible for the distribution, marketing and customer service of Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Vans in the US. More information on MBUSA and its products can be found at www.mbusa.com and www.mbsprinterusa.com