Vision of the road ahead
THE future of the automobile is safe, despite the threats of global warming and the limited future of oil. So says Dieter Zetsche, and he should know.
Zetsche is the top man at Daimler and, during a flying visit to Australia for the 50th anniversary of Mercedes-Benz Down Under, he covered a lot of ground in a one-hour briefing in Sydney.
‘‘I do believe in the concept of individual mobility. This gives freedom. This gives the way of expressing yourself,’’ Zetsche says.
‘‘This is a time of transition, transformation. It’s a threat if you don’t do anything and an opportunity if you get ahead of the wave.’’
He admits cars create pollution, but also says it is only 10 per cent of the total and highlights the changes that need to come in other areas.
Zetsche talks big on everything from Maybach to Smart, intelligent transportation networks to alternative fuels, and he has the history and research to back his conclusions. Daimler is the world’s oldest carmaker and, thanks to the cash flow from its silver star, has the money to be driving from the front.
But he admits the face of motoring is about to change, with everything from electric cars and hybrids to lightweight technologies and even a split between green city cars and more traditional petrol-powered distance machines.
‘‘We and others will not be able to weather this without any impact,’’ he says. ‘‘But we feel we are about the best prepared for these headwinds.’’
Even so, he is confident the world will still need automobiles.
‘‘The customer . . . will continue to demand cars. And it is our task to offer cars that customers can enjoy,’’ he says.
‘‘The best way to tackle these challenges is to sleep well at night. The most important answer to those challenges is the change of technology.’’
Reassuring note: Daimler chief Dieter Zetsche in Sydney.