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Up to 25 percent of cars may soon be fully electric, says Mercedes-Benz USA CEO after automaker invests $1 billion in electric vehicle production

  • Jason Hoff, CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA, discussed the auto giant's $1 billion investment in electric vehicle production.
  • Hoff said his company's midterm predictions show that up to 25 percent of cars may soon be electric.
  • However, trade-offs like charging time still challenge the budding auto segment, Hoff said.

Mercedes-Benz USA CEO Jason Hoff told CNBC on Friday that the automaker's midterm predictions show that up to 25 percent of cars may soon be fully electric.

"Some of the midterm horizons that we look at show maybe 15 to 25 percent [of cars] being full electric," the CEO told "Closing Bell." "That's why we believe it's really critical to stay flexible in our operations to make sure that we can basically react to whichever demand comes, either the gas or the full electric."

Hoff's statement came after Mercedes-Benz, the luxury division of the Germany-based Daimler AG, announced it would invest $1 billion in a Tuscaloosa, Alabama, factory to kick-start electric-vehicle production.

The automaker said the investment would add 600 jobs to the factory's existing 3,700, build a nearby facility for assembling battery systems and eventually enable Mercedes to offer more than 50 electrified versions of its cars by 2022.

The new models, which will be sold globally, will either be plug-in hybrids, fully electric or some other form of electric, Hoff said.

"I think consumers are still going to have a choice between traditional gas engines and electric vehicles," the CEO said. "Our goal of our operations and our strategy is to stay flexible for either one, and that's what we're doing with our new investment."

That said, Hoff acknowledged the existing trade-offs that might steer consumers toward traditional gas-fueled vehicles.

"Today, we go to a gas station and we fill up our car in a couple of minutes. And right now when you go to charge your vehicle, you know, you're looking at 20 to 30 minutes, at least, to get some kind of charge on the vehicle," Hoff said. "So that's where some of the big trade-offs are that we're still working on and, really, the whole automotive industry is working on."