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Daimler kicks off home battery rollout

Sun storage: Mercedes-Benz Energy’s lithium-ion home storage battery has an added feature: a three-pointed star.

Mercedes-Benz Energy to produce stationary and automotive energy storage systems

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Mercedes-Benz logo14 Jun 2016

By TIM NICHOLSON

DAIMLER AG is following in the footsteps of American rival Tesla by producing lithium-ion battery storage systems in parallel with the company's accelerating electrification strategy.

The Daimler effort falls under the newly formed Mercedes-Benz Energy GmbH umbrella, will compete directly with Tesla Energy's Powerwall and is due to make its public debut at the European electrical energy storage trade fair in Munich later this month.

The German automotive giant – which sold its four per cent stake in Tesla in late-2014 – says the global demand for lithium-ion batteries has significantly increased as more electrified vehicles are introduced.

It will use its wholly owned subsidiary, Deutsche Accumotive GmbH & Co. KG, to produce both the stationary systems for business and home use, as well as automotive storage systems for all electrified production Mercedes-Benz vehicles from 2017 on.

German deliveries started in April and while timing for global markets, including Australia, is unclear, Daimler said that “international expansion and collaboration with further partners are particularly high on the agenda”.

A spokesperson for Mercedes-Benz Australia/Pacific told GoAuto that details of a local rollout and an update on the company’s plans for hybrid and electrified models would be revealed at a media event in mid-July at the company’s Mulgrave headquarters in Melbourne’s south-east, where it will house new EV and PHEV charging stations.

The spokesperson described the plans relating to electrification and battery storage as “game-changing”, adding that it has been two and a half years in the making.

The newly-formed Mercedes-Benz Energy company will be headed up from July 1 by Daimler executive Marcus Thomas, who brings years of experience in both conventional and alternative powertrain development.

Mercedes-Benz Energy will start with just 50 employees but the company says it hopes to increase this to 100 people by the end of this year but has plans to double that figure by the end of 2017.

The production facility and corporate offices will be at Daimler's Kamenz, Saxony plant in Germany that is in the process of being doubled in size thanks to a €500 million ($A761m) investment from the automotive giant.

Daimler says the energy storage units are built to the “highest safety and quality requirements” and are based on the same technology the company has used in about 75,000 EVs and hybrids built since 2012.

Each of the batteries produces 2.5kWh and Benz says up to eight battery modules are able to be combined into an energy storage system with up to 20kWh, but this can be far greater in industrial applications.

Daimler says it is working with energy provider Energie Baden-Wurttemberg (EnBW), solar energy specialist SMA and various “wholesalers” to sell the domestic storage systems in its German home market and that there is already a “strong network” in place for industrial applications.

Daimler AG head of development for Electrics/Electronics and E-Drive Harald Kroeger said the creation of the new company highlighted its commitment to alternative energy solutions.

“By founding Mercedes-Benz Energy GmbH, we are underscoring our ambition to be a technological and market leader in the field of highly efficient storage systems,” he said. “With our unique combination of high standards of quality and safety and positive economies of scale, we are supporting the success of the new energy era while helping to make electromobility affordable.”

In 2014 Benz announced plans to roll out 10 new plug-in hybrid models as part of its strategy to broaden its powertrain offerings in the face of ever tighter European emissions regulations. The company has since shown concepts powered by full electric powertrains.

Daimler is not alone in its ambitions to take advantage of the growing demand for battery power.

Last week GoAuto reported that Volkswagen Group might be looking at setting up a battery division of its own in the coming years under the name Phaeton – the moniker for its luxury flagship.

Nissan has also previously announced its plans to offer its xStorage home battery system.

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