mercedes.automotiveITMUNICH -- Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche said autonomous driving technologies may have even bigger potential for trucks than for passenger cars.

"In trucks it's not a nice-to-have, but it's a must," Zetsche told the Handelsblatt Auto Summit. He said autonomously driven trucks can enjoy a 5 percent reduction in fuel consumption, which is relevant given the important role played by fuel costs in the logistics industry.

The Daimler CEO also said autonomous driving will be a major factor in reducing traffic accidents. "Nine out of 10 accidents are the direct result of human failure," Zetsche said.

The pace of development in the field of autonomous driving has been so fast that it has even surprised Daimler's own engineers working on the technologies, Zetsche said. But he warned that the legislative framework to make self-driving cars a reality still isn't there.

The arrival of new automotive players from IT, telecommunications and consumer electronics sectors doesn't pose a threat to the car industry, Zetsche said. "We are primarily potential partners," he said in answer to a question about Google. "I don't think Google, in first instance, wants to become a car manufacturer."

Talking about Google, the Daimler CEO said he is looking at Google with a combination of respect, curiosity and a willingness to learn from the internet specialist.

-By Arjen Bongard