Robert Wright:

“It shows that the industry has a major growth potential and therefore I’m happy because we’re part of the automotive industry,” Mr Uebber said of Apple’s putative plans.

He insisted that Daimler was at the forefront of many of the areas where new industry entrants were seeking to make inroads, including electric vehicle technology and autonomous driving.

“We have autonomous driving,” Mr Uebber said, referring to experiments that have included having a Mercedes-Benz truck — known as FT2025 — driving autonomously along a German autobahn, largely without human intervention. “We’re the frontrunner. In trucks, last year we demonstrated a truck on the highway autonomously driving between Mannheim and Pforzheim. FT2025 demonstrated what we can do in the future.”

“If there were a rumour that Mercedes or Daimler planned to start building smartphones then they (Apple) would not be sleepless at night. And the same applies to me.

“And this is full of respect for Apple. That is what I am saying.”