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MONTVALE, N.J. — A high-level executive from Mercedes-Benz USA predicted enormous industry changes ahead since new greenhouse gas emissions standards have been signed into federal law.

The automaker's manager of advanced product planning expects more vehicle emissions changes to happen during the next 10 years than what's occurred in the previous half century. Sascha Simon stressed that point during a speech on Wednesday to young entrepreneurs at the Summit Series in Washington, D.C.

However, Simon insisted there is no "silver bullet" that will solve America's transportation problems and its reliance on gasoline.

"There are many buzzwords that spur the public imagination and have been touted as the best or even the only solution: plug-in hybrids, electric vehicles, power grids, charging stations, lithium-ion batteries," Simon explained.

"All of these can serve the goal of creating a sustainable future transportation system. However, the notion that we all will drive short-range battery electric vehicles is not a realistic one," he continued.

The Mercedes-Benz executive went on to reiterate many drivers need and demand larger vehicles that can travel long distances. Simon believes commercial fleets especially will not be able to rely on batteries alone.

Because of those assertions, the automaker recapped its commitment to invest significant resources in hydrogen electric technology. The company thinks this strategy has the potential to reduce dependence on fossil fuels significantly without constraining customer expectations.

Mercedes-Benz also pointed out its plans to complement its current portfolio. The company intends to do so by merging its BlueTEC clean diesel SUVs and hybrid offerings with hydrogen electric vehicles at the end of this year.

The OEM insists the path is meant to start introducing customers to the technology and gain real-world experience.

Simon mentioned to the gathering at the nation's capital that infrastructure challenges are preventing the technology from being adopted on a large scale. He suggested that this new generation of buyers would play a large role in shaping the face of transportation going forward.

"The road to zero emissions is not necessarily as long as most people think," Simon interjected.

"The speed of progress depends on government climate change programs and carbon fuel supplies, but just as important is the customers' willingness to adopt and embrace alternative fuel vehicles," he went on to state.

"We also need new and innovative thinking to increase the number of suppliers for these new technologies," Simon concluded.