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Mercedes-Benz announces $A64b EV commitment

Taking charge: Mercedes-Benz will be all-electric by 2030.

Mercedes-Benz outlines new partnerships and luxury EVs for its electric future

23 Jul 2021

MERCEDES-Benz will launch three new electric vehicle platforms within four years as a precursor to becoming an all-electric car-maker by the end of the decade.


The company last year said it wanted electrified vehicles to make up 25 per cent of its range by 2025 – now it has upped the ante and plans 50 per cent by 2025 and wants “a market scenario for new car sales which in essence has switched to fully electric by the end of the decade”.


Its big electric step into the future involves a €40 billion ($A64b) R&D program between 2022 and 2030.


The investment calls for a new product line, eight battery factories, partners for new battery development and production, the acquisition of electric motor manufacturer YASA, and the installation of more than half a million charging stations around the world operating on a unique payment system.


By 2022, Mercedes-Benz will have battery electric vehicles (BEV) in all its segments and from 2025, all new vehicle architectures will be electric-only.


It said customers “would be able to choose an all-electric alternative for every model the company makes”.


“Mercedes-Benz intends to manage this accelerated transformation while sticking to its profitability targets,” its statement said.


Mercedes-Benz said the EV movement was accelerating, especially in the luxury-vehicle segments in which it operates.


Daimler AG CEO and the CEO of Mercedes-Benz AG, Ola Kallenius, said “the tipping point is getting closer and we will be ready as markets switch to electric-only by the end of this decade”.


“This step marks a profound reallocation of capital. By managing this faster transformation while safeguarding our profitability targets, we will ensure the enduring success of Mercedes-Benz,” he said.


Mr Kallenius said an important lever is to increase net revenue per unit by raising the proportion of high-end EVs such as Mercedes-Maybach and Mercedes-AMG models, while at the same time taking more direct control over pricing and sales. 


The example is a concept car under development called the Vision EQXX; an EV with a ‘real world’ range of more than 1000km that targets a single-digit figure for kW/h per 100km at normal highway driving speeds. 


Due to be shown next year, the car is being developed by a team including experts from Mercedes-Benz's F1 High Performance Powertrain division (HPP).


“Technological advances made with Vision EQXX will be adapted and applied for potential use in new electric architectures,” the company said.


The three new architectures will consist of the MB.EA, AMG.EA and VAN.EA with each having their own bespoke purpose.


MB.EA will underpin virtually all of the brands medium to large-size passenger vehicles and serve as the backbone for the future EV portfolio.


AMG.EA will be a dedicated performance architecture while VAN.EA will be purpose-built for electric vans and light-commercial vehicles.


Parallel to its product development, the company plans to centralise planning, development, purchasing and production of its EV program and increase the level of vertical integration in manufacturing and development.


It will also bring electric drive technology in-house, including the purchase of UK-based electric motor company YASA which gives it access to unique axial-flux motor technology and expertise to develop next generation ultra-high-performance motors. 


“In-house electric motors, such as the eATS 2.0, are a key part of the strategy with a clear focus on efficiency and the overall cost of the entire system, including inverters and software,” the brand said in a statement.


It also said China – home to hundreds of companies and suppliers specialised in EV components and software technologies – “is expected to play a key role in accelerating the Mercedes-Benz electrification strategy”, indicating Chinese manufacturing of the car-maker's components.


To power its new vehicles, the company estimates it will need a total battery capacity of more than 200 Gigawatt hours and together with partners, plans to set up eight “gigafactories” for producing cells.


These plants are in addition to the already-announced network of nine plants dedicated to building battery systems. 


It said that the new EVs will have standardised batteries that will be suitable for use in more than 90 per cent of all Mercedes-Benz cars and vans.


The battery range would also be flexible “to offer individual solutions to all customers” showing the factories would make batteries for other car-makers.


It expects the batteries will be subject to ongoing upgrades to boost range and shorten charging times, pointing to its partnership with SilaNano that is working on energy density increase by using silicon-carbon composite in the anode. 


“This will allow for unprecedented range and even shorter charging times,” a spokesperson said.


“When it comes to solid-state technology, Mercedes-Benz is in talks with partners to develop batteries with even higher energy density and safety.”


With the company’s ‘Plug & Charge’ program, which starts at the end of this year, customers will be able to plug-in, charge and unplug without extra steps needed for authentication and payment processing. 


The program includes ‘Mercedes me Charge’ which is already one of the world's largest charging networks and currently comprises more than 530,000 AC and DC charging points worldwide. 


Mercedes said it is working with Shell on expanding the charging network, allowing customers access to Shell's Recharge network of over 30,000 charge points by 2025 in Europe, China, and North America.


The company is now preparing its production facilities for an EV-only future and said that pre-planning had made it possible for it to mass-produce BEVs from today.


“As soon as next year, eight Mercedes-Benz electric vehicles will be produced at seven locations on three continents,” it said.


“Furthermore all passenger car and battery assembly sites run by Mercedes-Benz AG will switch to carbon neutral production by 2022.”


Mercedes-Benz said it “will continue the transformation of its workforce” making use of extensive re-skilling schemes, early retirement as well as buyouts. 


“TechAcademies will be offering colleagues training for future-oriented qualifications. In 2020 alone, about 20,000 employees in Germany were trained in aspects of e-mobility. 


“To deliver on plans for developing the MB.OS operating system, 3000 new software engineering jobs will be created worldwide.”

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