Daimler AG CEO Dieter Zetsche is pretty confident about the imminence of self-driving cars. Hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles? Not so much. He didn't even get into the possibility of self-driving fuel-cell vehicles, but we're okay taking future technologies one at a time.
Zetsche, in an interview from the Detroit Auto Show last week, said the automotive industry is about a decade away from avoiding disappointing experiences with production fuel-cell vehicles, In Auto News says. Zetsche was quick to note that the Mercedes-Benz parent entered into a fuel-cell partnership with Ford and Nissan early last year in an effort to split costs and speed things along, with the expectation that the group would develop something together by 2017, but even that won't be able to smooth things out fully. Toyota and Hyundai have said they'd have their own production vehicles on the road sooner than that.
Multi-corporation-partnerships notwithstanding, Zetsche bemoaned the high costs, lack of vehicle volume and minimal refueling infrastructure as the proverbial roadblocks to more rapid development and adoption of fuel-cell vehicles. As it is, the US has just 10 publicly accessible hydrogen refueling stations, eight of which are in Southern California, according to the US Department of Energy.
As for autonomous automobiles, Zetsche was more upbeat. Daimler already has what it calls the "Distronic" cruise control system that includes an automatic braking feature and has successfully driven a car 60 miles with "with relatively modest adjustments to the existing onboard technology."