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Daimler CEO Ola Kallenius speaks at the Paris Motor Show on Oct. 2, 2018.

ERIC PIERMONT/AFP/Getty Images

Mercedes-Benz maker Daimler said on Wednesday it will accelerate its shift to electric cars as it builds on a strong start to 2021 despite a global semiconductor chip shortage, but gave no details of how fast its car lineup will go electric.

The German company said it expected 2021 to be a significantly better year for revenue, and pre-tax profits than a pandemic-hit 2020.

In common with German rivals BMW and Volkswagen, Daimler benefited from Chinese demand for high-margin luxury vehicles in the second half of 2020, which helped sales to recover from production shutdowns in the first part of the year.

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But a shortage of chips the auto industry uses in a range of functions, such as managing fuel economy and emergency braking, has meant much of the industry has struggled to maintain output.

Daimler said it planned to speed up the electrification of its product range, but did not provide any specific detail.

In 2019, Daimler said it expected plug-in hybrids or all-electric vehicles to make up more than 50 per cent of its car sales by 2030.

“We want to accelerate the electrification of our product portfolio,” Chief Executive Ola Källenius said. “It’s our goal to reach this target sooner.”

When asked during a video conference call with investors why Daimler had not provided updated targets, the carmaker’s CEO said this would depend on many factors, including the availability of charging infrastructure.

Källenius said Daimler will retool two of its oldest German plants, Untertürkheim and Berlin-Marienfelde, and retrain workers to make electric car components as well as parts for fossil-fuel models.

Daimler will next month unveil the EQS, an all-new electric Mercedes-Benz sedan using a dedicated electric vehicle platform. The company said on Wednesday the EQS should have a battery range of up to 770 kilometres (478 miles).

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As car makers develop faster charging batteries for consumers used to filling combustion engine fuel tanks in just minutes, CEO Källenius said the EQS can be charged up to a range of 300 km in 15 minutes.

Across the industry, car makers are racing to adapt as CO2 emissions targets tighten in Europe and China.

This month, BMW said it expected at least 50 per cent of its sales to be zero-emission vehicles by 2030.

Sweden’s Volvo meanwhile said its lineup would be fully electric by 2030, and Ford said in February its European models would be too.

While it focuses on electric cars, Daimler is preparing to list its truck making unit, Daimler Truck, which it said should happen by the end of 2021.

It announced plans to spin off the unit, the world’s largest truck and bus maker, in February, seeking to increase its investor appeal as a focused electric, luxury car business.

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