A changing world

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The new independence

The world is changing. And it is changing fast. Climate change, demographic trends, digitalization – we are facing gigantic challenges, but also a wealth of opportunities. At Daimler we want to make a significant contribution to shaping a better future through innovations, because automobiles move the world. They transport people and goods. They make encounters and participation possible. Hardly any other product is so closely linked with social and economic progress.

In 1970 there were about 3.7 billion people on our planet, and 48 percent of them lived in extreme poverty.1 By 2015 the global population had almost doubled, and ten percent of people lived in extreme poverty.2 That’s still ten percent too many, but it shows that it’s possible to do more with less: more people, less poverty. If this trend continues, extreme poverty could be eliminated by 2030.3

1.1 billion
Between 1990 and 2015, almost 1.1 billion people escaped from extreme poverty.4

Here is another example: Since 1990 the economic output of the European Union has increased by about 50 percent. During the same period, CO2 emissions decreased in the EU by 22 percent and in Germany by 28 percent. This reduction is far from enough, especially because during this period emissions have significantly increased worldwide.5 All the same, this development in the EU also shows that it’s possible to do more with less. More prosperity, lower emissions.

In his bestseller Factfulness, the Swedish scientist Hans Rosling describes various examples of this kind of progress: more species protection, more access to drinking water and electricity, more literacy, more formal education, more mobile phones and internet access – and at the same time, less child labor, less malnutrition, fewer deaths due to natural catastrophes, less ozone pollution, and less particulate matter. Many of these developments run counter to popular belief: The world seems to be better than its reputation.

Step by step, year by year, the world is improving. Not on every single measure every single year, but as a rule. Though the world faces huge challenges, we have made tremendous progress. This is the fact-based worldview.

Hans Rosling Healthcare researcher, physician, and best-selling author
Quotation from his 2018 book Factfulness

#covid19 #coronavirus

We publish this report as people all around the world are fighting against the COVID-19 pandemic. Containment of the virus is a challenge of historic proportions – for the individual as much as for society, for governments as well as for corporations. It takes national and international solidarity and flexibility to overcome this crisis.

We at Daimler are determined to contribute our part and support to the best of our ability. We have taken numerous steps to protect our employees, slow down the spread of the pandemic, and fulfill our social responsibility. Constantly updated information can be found here.

Mobility is progress

So can everything stay the same? Absolutely not. That would overburden the earth’s resources. Because of global warming, many regions would become unlivable, while others would suffer massive change. At the same time, the global population will go on growing – by almost 30 percent to just under ten billion by 2050.6 An increasing proportion of the world’s people will live in cities, transport volumes will continue to grow worldwide, and digital technologies will shape more and more areas of our lives.

We changed the world with the horseless carriage. We want to do that again with emission-free vehicles.

Ola Källenius Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Mercedes-Benz AG

EQC 400 4MATIC: Electric power consumption (combined, acc. to NEDC): 21.3-20.2 kWh/100 km; CO2 emissions combined: 0 g/km (see appendix: labeling)

But one thing is likely to remain unchanged: In the future, people all over the world will continue to strive for security, health, freedom, and prosperity, as well as participation, progress, and mobility.

And they will emphasize self-determination. In the sheltered space of a vehicle, you are “auto-mobile” in the truest sense of the word. You decide for yourself how and where you’re going, as well as when and with whom. You’re in the midst of the action without having to give up the benefits of privacy. That’s one of the reasons why most people enjoy driving their car – and our brands symbolize a lifestyle.


Less growth is therefore not a realistic option, and “more of the same” is even less so. The automotive growth will be justifiable over the long term only if it is in accord with society and the environment. The more people strive for the freedom that a car represents, the more we also need a new independence – from fossil energy carriers, limited resources, accidents, time-consuming traffic jams, and even, if so desired, freedom from the need for a driver or for ownership of a car. This new independence is our mission. We are changing lanes: More mobility with fewer risks to sustainability – that’s the transformation symbolized by our SpurWechsel.

Climate protection

In its latest report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change calls on the global community to limit global warming to a maximum of 1.5°C.7 Climate change is leading to increasingly frequent extreme weather events such as torrential rains, droughts, and hurricanes – not only in the southern hemisphere but also in the midst of Europe.8

26  years
In order to reach the 2°C target of the Paris Agreement, the global economy must be operating CO2-neutrally within the next 26 years at the latest.9

In order to minimize the consequences of climate change, we as a company must work together with governments and civil society across national borders. That’s why at Daimler we set ourselves challenging targets for climate protection in 2019. We aim to reach these targets within the next 20 years.

We are strongly committing ourselves to innovations, openness to new technologies, and competition in order to find the best solutions. At the same time, we need clearly defined rules and effective mechanisms for the long-term reduction of CO2 emissions – for example, an adequate and efficient pricing system. These rules should be cooperatively formulated and globally enforced.

Resource conservation

In recent decades economic growth and increasing prosperity have been accompanied by a massive increase in the consumption of natural resources. The worldwide consumption of resources more than tripled between 1970 and 2017 – and this increase is steadily continuing.10 We are convinced that we need to decouple the growth of prosperity from the (increasing) consumption of resources. And in order to do that we are transforming our value chain into a value-added cycle.

Like all other companies, Daimler is being challenged to transform itself and become climate-neutral. There is no way to avoid this challenge, and Daimler has already begun to tackle it. The transformation should continue to be shaped in ways that do not sacrifice mobility.

Prof. Dr. Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker Environmental researcher and climate expert Read the full interview

Responsibility in a global and digitalized world

Economic growth and prosperity are linked with the growing demand for raw materials and products. The global supply chains that these developments require are growing increasingly complex, and they pose many environmental and societal challenges. An important aspect of these supply chains is respect for and protection of human rights. For example, the expansion of electric mobility requires raw materials such as lithium, cobalt, and nickel. However, there is a risk that these raw materials are possibly being extracted under conditions that are critical in terms of human rights. We are therefore implementing a systematic approach along our automotive value chains with which we aim to prevent human rights violations.

There is probably no other industry at the moment where the need for transformation is so urgent. Either you do it now and get it right or you are going to be out of business, being irrelevant. It is that kind of excitement and tension.

Peter Bakker President and CEO of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development
Member of the Advisory Board for Integrity and Corporate Responsibility

But physical raw materials are not the only valuable resources. The economic growth and global networks of recent decades would not have been imaginable without digitalization. New digital solutions create many benefits for society. This also applies to mobility. As a result of automation, in the future vehicles will communicate ever more closely with their drivers, other vehicles, and the infrastructure. That can bring us more freedom, safety, and comfort – but it also means that huge volumes of data will be shared. That’s why one of our top priorities is the responsible handling of data.

Cities: Where the world meets

The world is closing ranks, not only digitally but also physically. Urbanization is increasing; more than half of the world’s population is already living in cities. According to the United Nations, a total of five billion people will be living in the world’s cities by 2030.11 Making these metropolitan areas fit for the future in social, environmental, and economic terms is one of the crucial challenges of our time.

Studies predict that almost 70 percent of the world’s population will be living in cities by 2050.12
Only about 53 percent of city-dwellers worldwide have access to local public transportation.13

Cities offer their residents a whole range of opportunities. They are meeting places for knowledge workers and creative minds from all over the world and testing grounds for new forms of cohabitation. That makes cities important players in the search for solutions to global challenges such as climate change. And cities are increasingly showing what more sustainable living could look like – for example, through multimodal and intermodal mobility solutions. These services are based on the smart networking of buses, trains, carsharing, private cars, and bicycles. As a company, we want to make our mark by offering new digital mobility services and innovative solutions for the transportation of goods.

Meanwhile, it’s essential not to neglect the surrounding regions. That’s because more and more people are commuting to their workplaces – in Germany that applied to 60 percent of all workers in 2017.14 And for many of them, individual mobility is crucial. Integrating individual transport into new mobility concepts safely and effectively is an important task. In this complex mix of individual and mass transportation as well as the growing volume of goods transport, the topic of traffic safety is moving further into focus. Assistance systems and the further development of automated driving in our cars, vans, trucks, and buses are helping to reduce dangerous situations and making mobility safer, more efficient, and more comfortable.

Other topics

A changing culture

We are shaping the automotive transformation, and we want to set standards. We are moving ahead at Daimler in order to move the world as a leading provider of sustainable mobility in the future.

A changing culture

1 Our World in Data (2019), World population living in extreme poverty.

2 United Nations (n.d.), Ending poverty.

3,4 The World Bank Group (2019), Poverty overview.

5 The World Bank Group (n.d.), CO2 emissions.

6 United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (2019), World Population Prospects.

7,8 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2019), Special Report: Global Warming of 1.5 °C.

9 Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (2019), That’s how fast the carbon clock is ticking.

10 United Nations Environment Programme (2019), Global Resources Outlook 2019.

11,13 United Nations (n.d.), Sustainable Development Goal 11.

12 United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (2019), World Urbanization Prospects 2018: Highlights.

14 Bundesinstitut für Bau-, Stadt- und Raumforschung (2017), Immer mehr Menschen pendeln zur Arbeit.


Daimler AG Mercedesstraße 120
70372 Stuttgart
Tel.: +49 711 17 0
E-Mail: dialog@daimler.com

Represented by the Board of Management: Ola Källenius (Chairman), Martin Daum, Renata Jungo Brüngger, Wilfried Porth, Markus Schäfer, Britta Seeger, Hubertus Troska, Harald Wilhelm

Chairman of the Supervisory Board: Bernd Pischetsrieder

Commercial Register Stuttgart, No. HRB 19360
VAT registration number: DE 81 25 26 315