Daimler: Shift to electric cars non-negotiable despite virus

FRANKFURT, GERMANY (AP) – Germany’s Daimler AG, maker of Mercedes-Benz luxury cars, made only a small profit in the first quarter of 2020 as the company shut down factories and shifted into cash preservation and cost management mode during the coronavirus crisis.

The company’s CEO said yesterday the Stuttgart-based automaker was now engaging in a gradual re-start of production — and would continue its investment in electric cars and digitalisation. He called the shift to new technologies “non-negotiable” despite the severe disruption from the virus outbreak.

Net profit was EUR168 million (USD182 million), down from EUR2.1 billion in the same quarter a year earlier. Revenue fell to EUR37.2 billion from EUR39.7 billion in the first quarter of 2019.

CEO Ola Kallenius said that “now we have started with a gradual ramp-up of our production.”

“At the same time,” he said, “we are continuing to invest in key technologies, including electrification and digitalisation. They are non-negotiable elements of our future.”

Employees of the Hungarian bus maker ITK Holding work at the plant in Debrecen, Hungary. The company that makes Mercedes-Benz Reform 500 LE buses has restarted production following a two-week shutdown because of the coronavirus outbreak. PHOTO: AP