In a speech Monday to the Detroit Economic Club,
DaimlerChrysler CEO Dieter Zetsche said that several automakers—including DaimlerChrysler—had misjudged the market impact of Honda and Toyota’s hybrids.
We put too much weight on the business case and the physical limitations of hybrids and were late to educate the public on virtues of other fuel-efficient alternative technologies such as modern, clean diesel engines.
We allowed hybrid technology to take a “moral high ground” in the press and public perception, particularly in the Northeast and on the West Coast.
We’ve learned from that experience, and we’re acting. (Daily Oakland [Michigan] Press)
DaimlerChrysler is now collaborating with GM to develop a hybrid architecture that can be applied across the full range of vehicle formats, compact car to SUV, using either gasoline or diesel engines. (Earlier post.)
Zetsche also worried about the emergence of the Chinese automakers.
If the stated sales and share goals of Asian manufacturers are realized—even if only in part—this trend [the erosion of market share for the Detroit automakers] will continue.
It took the Japanese automakers more than 20 years to become serious competitors in this market. The Korean automakers accomplished the same feat in about half that time. The Chinese may make it in as little as five years. That’s a frightening prospect. (Detroit Free Press)