Daimler Moves EQ Rollout To 2022 As Rules Of The Game Change

Daimler is speeding up its EQ all-electric vehicle lineup launch by three years to deal with regulatory pressure and to take a leading role in the shift toward electrification.

The German automaker is sticking with its goal of launching 10 EVs, but they’ll all be unveiled by 2022 instead of the previous target of 2025.

Its EQ lineup of 10 electric sedans, SUVs, and compacts was announced last fall at the Paris auto show with 2019 as the starting time. Mercedes-Benz will oversee the EQ subbrand.

The company sees market forces speeding up for automakers to move away from traditional powertrains. Internal combustion engines are going through what the company describes as a “transitional period.”

Daimler used the annual shareholder meeting to release a statement prior to the event on Wednesday.

“We want to shape the profound transformation of the automotive industry from the forefront,” Daimler chairman Manfred Bischoff said in the statement. “Further fundamental changes will be required for Daimler to remain successful,” he said.

Like other Europe-based automakers, Daimler is facing increasing scrutiny from national governments and the European Union. Diesel cars, which not long ago made up the leading powertrain for cars in the continent, is seeing softening demand. The Volkswagen diesel cheating scandal triggered some of that, but carbon emissions mandates had been falling into place for years prior, with diesel losing support.

Daimler is facing its own increased scrutiny with German prosecutors investigating its employees from allegations made over diesel emissions reporting manipulations.

While achieving declines in carbon emissions from vehicles sold in Europe for several years, the company saw it flatten last year at 123 grams per kilometer. As has been the case in the U.S., buyers have been favoring larger vehicles. If the automaker doesn’t bring that measure down to a level of 100 grams per kilometer by 2021 it will face hefty fines.

Strong demand for large vehicles could help explain Daimler’s unveiling so far in the EQ lineup. The EQ electric SUV is expected to hit the market in 2019.

Diesel versions of these vehicles are seeing declining interest, which signals an historic shift in European consumers who had preferred to drive diesel vehicles for several decades. Daimler prided itself on high-performance diesel powertrains and used it to compete strongly against BMW, Audi, and others.

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The Center for Automotive Research at the University of Duisburg-Essen reported that demand for diesel vehicles fell to its lowest level in December since September 2010, making up 43 percent of total sales.

Germany’s IG Metall union said after conducting a survey of manufacturers and suppliers in Daimler’s home state of Baden-Wuerttemberg that the industry is leaning away from diesel and over to electrification.

“Among development teams, especially in diesel, there are signs there’s less to do as electrification is starting to have an impact,” Roman Zitzelsberger, a union representative on Daimler’s supervisory board, said about the survey of auto manufacturers and suppliers. “We found there are fewer follow-up requests and general degree of activity.”

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