You criticize Mercedes' luxury strategy.


Gustave parts

Business correspondent in Stuttgart.

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Verbally promoting luxury in such a way is an affront to many average people.

They have the feeling that only sheikhs and the super-rich can afford these cars.

In the past, Daimler also offered small cars like the Smart.

Today they no longer need them to comply with the CO2 fleet limits.

Aren't electric cars making Mercedes sustainable anyway?

The traffic turnaround is not just about electrification.

It is about making vehicles and traffic as a whole more efficient, economical and resource-light.

The Smart was a small, light, city-friendly car, designed for sharing offers.

Now it's becoming an SUV in China.

This is the complete reversal of the former approach.

Because the old one didn't pay off.

I keep hearing that, but I'm not convinced.

With the most modern production methods, wages play a modest role, so smaller vehicles could also be produced economically in large numbers.

But as it is, the market is completely left to Asian suppliers, especially Chinese ones.

VW, BMW and Audi are following similar paths.

They don't offer cheap simple e-cars.

Electric cars are available from 30,000 euros.

Not so long ago you could get an all-round car for 15,000 euros.

Is the market for cheap cars just not attractive enough?

Especially since the Chinese are often subsidized by the state.

I expect German manufacturers not only to make short-term business calculations, but also to think ecologically and sustainably.

There is a large global market for such cars.

If the car is to have a future in the face of the climate crisis, then it must be resource-light and energy-efficient.

I have been driving e-vehicles as a company car for a long time, currently a Mercedes EQS.

What do you think of the limousine?

This is a beautiful wind tunnel optimized car with great efficiency, ride quality and range.

But you sit pretty low in the back.

You are like China's billionaires, the roof is too low for them.

I work back there a lot.

And even though I'm a small man, I often bump my head.

The car is optimized for use in the front seat, but it is also bought by people with a driver as a company car.

With the company car privilege, the state promotes heavy, large cars, although lighter and more economical cars would make more ecological sense.

Wouldn't it be your job to ensure that the production of such vehicles is worthwhile instead of criticizing the strategy resulting from the general conditions?

I'm not the federal government.

If it were up to us Greens, we would have modified or abolished the company car privilege long ago.

The counter-argument that jobs are at risk has never convinced me.

The success of the German automotive industry depends only to a limited extent on the German market.

How could politics create the framework conditions that make these smaller vehicles worthwhile?

Wouldn't that be your job?

As a state minister, I am only very indirectly responsible for this.

I deal with it politically as a matter of course.

And I wonder how we can reverse the trend.

The current engines are extremely powerful because they are often supposed to move up to two and a half tons super fast.

That uses too much energy.

Doesn't your own experience explain why people drive SUVs?

Sure, I have nothing against SUVs.

I have something against SUVs, which require an enormous amount of material and energy and are fat and large.

A historical example: The Mercedes A-Class was designed in the 1990s as a compact fuel cell or electric car, and it was jacked up for these drives.

But the drive didn't pay off back then.

Because the entrance was so high, many older people liked the high vehicle.