Daimler hits the gas on electric and autonomous driving tech

Mercedes-Benz parent company Daimler intends to up its spending on research and development, the company revealed during its quarterly earnings call on Thursday. The high-end car maker is going to route a lot more money toward areas key to the future of driving, including autonomous driving tech, a brand new generation of batteries for electric vehicles and alternative drive systems.

Daimler’s CEO Dieter Zetsche said the company is “adjusting” their plan in the electric car field, a change in strategy that reflects increased investment from Audi, as well as Tesla’s quick rise to becoming a kind of high-end electric brand cachet. While Zetsche didn’t put a number on spending into either electric, or into R&D efforts in general, he did say that spending on R&D for 2016 would be “significantly” higher than 2015’s roughly $7.3 billion spent.

Already, Daimler’s Mercedes unit is making impressive strides: The company revealed a milestone 12-mile unassisted trip for its autonomous buses, navigating city streets and freeways on a route from an Amsterdam airport to a neighboring town.