"We want more AMG models!"
That's the feedback from current Mercedes-Benz customers, according to Dr. Dieter Zetsche, the brand's global chief. His comment comes in response to a question on whether the company is currently directing more R&D budget towards autonomous driving cars or pure electric cars.
"People are not telling us, 'why don't you have an electric car?'," Zetsche says. "Rather, they are telling us why can't you deliver more AMG vehicles!"
"Electric drivetrains takes up a lot more than autonomous driving in terms of our R&D budget," Dr. Zetsche says. "It is important for us to be perceived as the technological leader, we can’t always be that but we should always try to.
"We have a decade-long vision for accident-free driving and our founders were the inventors of the automobile, so we must continue to reinvent the automobile."
Dr. Zetsche points out that some of the demand for autonomous driving cars, and even electric cars, has accelerated before relevant regulations have been able to be properly set.
"So far it is very clear that there is a big discrepancy between the market demand and the regulations that we have to work with," he says. "On a global basis, including Tesla, the number of cars available is minuscule in terms of overall sales."
In Germany, at least, government regulators are still trying to get their heads around the concept of vehicles driving themselves.
"With autonomous driving there is some uncertainty among some parts of the customer base," Dr. Zetsche says.
"The majority of people are curious certainly, but what surprises me in Germany is that 90 percent of people talk about the risks with new technology. We have to act responsibility to keep the positive momentum of this technology going though."