German automobile manufacturer Daimler, the parent company of Mercedes-Benz, is looking to launch at least six and at most nine models of electric cars.
The move will place Daimler in competition with companies such as Tesla Motors and Audi in the rapidly growing electric car industry, with the company set to unveil a new electric vehicle next month at the Paris Motor Show.
The information, reported by Reuters, came from a person who is familiar with the plans of Daimler.
In July, Daimler said that it was accelerating the development of not only premium electric vehicles, but also self-driving car technology.
The statement was made by Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche at the quarterly earnings call of the company, and came after news that rival Audi was likewise looking to hasten the development of its own electric cars.
Daimler will be increasing this year's budget for its research and development division for the purpose. No figure was provided, but in 2015, Daimler spent about $7.3 billion in the department.
Daimler's efforts will finally be shown in October in Paris, following through with an earlier report by Germany-based trade magazine Automobilwoche that the company will launch more than six models of electric cars between the years 2018 and 2024.
Daimler unit Mercedes-Benz, meanwhile, is said to be planning to launch an entirely new line of electric vehicles, including two sedans and two sports utility vehicles. The name of this sub-brand of electric vehicles is not yet known, but the source of Reuters added that one of the SUV models will be a plug-in hybrid with an engine utilizing fuel cells. The range of the vehicle would be up to 50 kilometers, or 30 miles, from the electric power and then could shift to electricity generated by hydrogen to keep going.
Automobile manufacturers based in Germany used to shun the electric car market because of the limited driving range of the vehicles and the high costs associated with them. However, the companies now find themselves making heavy investments in the segment because of the increasing outcry against diesel fumes. In addition, developments in battery technology have largely improved the range of electric cars.
Zetsche believes that by 2020, Mercedes-Benz will be able to overtake BMW and Audi in the luxury car market. While part of the confidence on the company's future performance is on its future electric cars, Daimler expects that the biggest contributor to the company's worldwide expansion will be coming from China.