Mercedes-Benz’ USA Head Says Tesla’s Potential Is Limited

Although tiny Tesla is not even present at the New York auto show this week, automakers could not avoid hearing questions about Tesla, and its name came up with the head of Mercedes-Benz USA when asked whether it would include more plug-in hybrids.

Tesla has “no network” and “little shops that don’t have service capacity,” said M-B’s Steve Cannon, and he added that time will tell whether Tesla can prove successful in the long run.

“Folks are buying a Tesla now because they’re kind of cool, but if you’re a Tesla buyer, you have to have multiple cars,” Cannon said, adding that mass demand on EV infrastructure would show it unable to meet demand. “With Mercedes, you have a whole network. You’ve got no worries.”

Cannon had said plug-in hybrid tech “could be a mainstream technology” for Mercedes-Benz.

“Tesla is great, but you’ve got plenty of well-established brands that mean luxury, like Porsche or Mercedes-Benz, and how long do you think we’re going to wait and let Tesla be out there alone [selling premium electric cars]?” he said. “So, good job, Tesla, but will they be able to maintain that with the others of us out in the market? That remains to be seen.”

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In contrast, Cannon said, M-B will attract more customers in the alternative energy space – including those with gas and diesel engines – in greater numbers.

The German automaker knows how to better “cater to luxury consumers” with “a complete luxury experience” he said of purchasing and service.

“Consumers want all of that, but they aren’t going to want to pay for it, and the potential of fully electric vehicles for the rest of my life and a good portion of the rest of your life will be limited,” he said.

Later in the year, the 2015 S 500 PHEV will become the company’s third hybrid. It will also have its B-Class electric (pictured at top) but this is not a direct alternative to the Model S.

Forbes