March 3, 2015 / 11:09 AM / in 3 years

Daimler sees opportunity from convergence with tech firms

GENEVA (Reuters) - German car and truck maker Daimler is not afraid of new competitors from the technology and telecoms industries, Chief Executive Dieter Zetsche said on Tuesday.

Thomas Weber, the member of Daimler board of management, presents the new Mercedes C 350 e during the first press day ahead of the 85th International Motor Show in Geneva March 3, 2015. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

“There is tremendous opportunity in the convergence of the West Coast tech industry and the auto industry with its huge technological depth,” Zetsche said at the Geneva auto show.

“We feel we are well equipped to drive that development and to lead it in many areas. We are open and attentive to all intrusions from all sides,” he added.

Asked if Daimler would be open to new forms of cooperation with the likes of Apple and Google, Zetsche said they were already cooperating on several levels.

“We are open to any kind of development,” he said, adding he did not know if rumors about Apple building a car were true.

“There is a lot of game-changing underway. We are very open to that,” Zetsche said, adding some of the hype of the past had been quickly forgotten. “I don’t think next year in Geneva we will talk about the Apple and Google car.”

Daimler was still pushing the electric car, and there may be an opportunity to build a large luxury electric vehicle since Tesla had proved there was a market for it.

“We are investigating whether this is a possibility for us as well,” Zetsche said.

Separately, Daimler continues to benefit from strong momentum in luxury-car sales in the first quarter, the CEO said.

“It seems that strong momentum which is now continuing for years, will continue in February as well,” Zetsche said, adding sales continued to rise even in Russia where competitors have seen deliveries drop off.

“We have to accept that the overall economy will have an effect on sales; we are prepared but we have not seen it yet,” he said on Russia.

In China, where the pace of growth is easing, pricing of Mercedes-Benz cars remained good, he said.

Reporting by Ilona Wissenbach and Edward Taylor; Writing by Andreas Cremer; Editing by Kirsti Knolle and Mark Potter

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