While the number of electric-powered cars on the road is rising, the research-and-development head of Daimler AG and Mercedes-Benz believes that it will take two to three more decades before the production of internal-combustion engines begins to wane.
"Electrification will take place, but not without a combustion engine for 20 or 30 years," said Daimler AG and Mercedes-Benz R&D head Thomas Weber. "What will go down is the sales of the pure combustion engine, though it is an open question as to how fast this will happen."
According to Weber, full-size vehicles will become plug-in hybrids, while midsize cars will either be full hybrids or dual-fuel, which means it will use two types of fuel like gasoline and natural gas. The only pure electric vehicle, Weber believes, will be small city cars.
For the long term, Weber believes the most viable option is the hydrogen fuel cell, which is "the answer to long-range, clean mobility." Though Mercedes-Benz reportedly planned to introduce a fuel-cell version of the B-Class next year, it has since been postponed following the signing of a collaboration deal on fuel-cell research with Ford and Nissan.
"Our decision was based on the infrastructure situation," added Weber. "We have shifted it a few years to 2016 or 2017. Technology-wise, we are nearly ready, but where are the fuel stations? This gives us time to develop a common drivetrain, which makes a lot of sense because the volumes will be higher and the costs lower, and push the infrastructure situation."