Like us, you might have assumed that one of the perks of being a reasonably senior manager at a major automaker would be the ability to pick any vehicle your company made as your own personal company car. Aside from the obvious benefits of having its employees driving around in its own vehicles, such arrangements are also a cost-effective solution for the automaker in question, since they are often able to register company cars on special ‘manufacturer’ license plates, skipping the usual middlemen of leasing companies and dealers altogether.
Of course not all automakers offer their own vehicles as company cars, and those that do usually leave it up to the individual to pick a vehicle from a selection of appropriately-priced models commensurate with their position. The higher the position, the more luxurious and expensive the company car is.
Not so at German automaker Daimler, which has announced a massive change to its executive company car program in order to encourage its employees to lead by example, decreeing that it will soon limit company car choices for executives at its Stuttgart headquarters to all-electric or plug-in hybrid models.
As MotorTrend reported earlier this week, the decision is part of a big electric vehicle push from the automaker, which has dramatically increased the number of plug-in hybrid and all-electric models produced across its various brands in recent years. These include the 2016 Mercedes-Benz C350e plug-in hybrid sedan, the Mercedes-Benz S550e plug-in hybrid sedan (sold as the S500e in Europe) the 2016 GLE500e 4Matic plug-in hybrid and GLC350e 4Matic plug-in hybrid SUVs, and all-new 2016 Mercedes-Benz E350e plug-in hybrid.
Most of these models, introduced in the last two years, combine a small lithium-ion battery pack offering between 10 and 15 miles of real-world range with a conventional gasoline engine mated to an automatic gearbox and powerful electric motor.
There’s also the B-class electric drive too, as well as the diminutive Smart ForTwo ED, although we’re guessing Daimler’s executives are unlikely to choose the latter.
Of the cars listed above, only the S550e, B-class ED and Smart ForTwo ED are available in the U.S., with the rest of the listed models already available in Daimler’s home market of Germany, explaining why Daimler’s program will begin in Stuttgart as a pilot project before extending elsewhere around the world.
Talking to MotorTrend, Daimler AG board member Ola Källenius said that the program is meant to “establish consistency” for Daimler’s zero emissions initiatives, adding that “This is why we are making electric mobility an integral part of the everyday lives of our top management to set an example and to provide a clear role model.”
In addition to the new company policy for executive company cars, MotorTrend reports that Daimler has invested €30 million (about $33 million U.S.) on helping expand public electric car charging provision in Germany. So far, that has helped bring more than 556 charging stations to the area around Daimler’s headquarters alone, ensuring employees have plenty of places to plug in.
For those who aren’t senior management, Daimler also offers its employees a special program offering cut-price lease deals on electric and plug-in hybrid cars compared to conventional and hybrid-powered vehicles. Combined, these two programs hope to change the way that Mercedes-Benz employees think and feel about electric cars, and help staff better understand the needs and desires of plug-in car customers.
While the scheme has yet to expand beyond Germany, we’re hopeful that Mercedes-Benz will bring a similar scheme to other key markets. It would be especially apopro in Georgia. That’s because legislators there voted last year to give Mercedes-Benz staff a special reduced-fee deal on company car taxes just days after killing the state’s long-standing electric car incentive program as a way of ensuring Mercedes-Benz kept its headquarters in the Peach State.
Do you think automakers should lead by example? Should executives be forced to drive cleaner, greener vehicles? And will leading by example really work?
Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.
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