Mercedes-Benz's parent company, Daimler, is putting the pedal to the metal in the development of premium electric cars and autonomous driving.

Daimler's CEO, Dieter Zetsche, recently made some statements at the company's quarterly earnings call that pave the way for the upcoming top-tier car models.

"We are adjusting our planning in this field," he says.

His statement comes in the wake of rival luxury brand Audi pumping more gas into its own development of electric cars. With Tesla and Volkswagen's Audi keen on taking a slice of the EV market, Daimler has to hurry to secure a top position.

"It is very important to get the right timing," Zetsche notes.

He goes on to add that his company is bolder as of late, and is aligned with the latest tendencies and trends in the auto industry. Zetsche mentions that additional details about Daimler's plans will be announced at the Paris motor show in October.

The automaker underlined that it plans to spend extra in 2016 in its R&D department. The company's research and development budget for 2015 was of €6.6 billion ($7.28 billion), an increase over the 2014 figure of €5.7 billion ($6.29 billion). It will spend even more this year.

The main focus of the carmaker will be building new low-emission and fuel-optimized engines, a new generation of batteries, alternative drive systems and self-driving technology.

Keep in mind that Daimler's Mercedes unit is making impressive progress toward autonomous cars, as its autonomous buses topped a 12-mile milestone of unassisted driving. The short but promising fare took place earlier this month in the Netherlands, between an Amsterdam airport and a neighboring town. An important thing to remember is that, as long as regulations are demanding it, all autonomous vehicles (the Mercedes bus included) need to have a driver behind the wheel at all times, in the case of an emergency.

Daimler reported that this year's profits on sales of Mercedes-Benz cars sank to 6.4 percent, while in 2015 the return was of 10.5 percent.

A number of factors, such as the investment required to bring out new models, took their toll on the profit margins. However, Zetsche is convinced that a determined product push will help Mercedes-Benz overtake rival BMW and secure the position of the biggest-selling luxury carmaker by sales.

Zetsche predicts that Mercedes-Benz can top Audi and BMW by 2020, if things go as planned. Just as in 2015, Daimler expects that the biggest contribution to its global expansion should come from the Chinese market. When looking at the U.S. market, Daimler is waiting to see a volume demand comparable to last year's.

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