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Mercedes guns for Australian battery market

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

Mercedes-Benz Energy in talks with Aussie providers for its new stationary batteries

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Mercedes-Benz logo14 Jul 2016

MERCEDES-BENZ has confirmed it is in talks with potential installation partners in Australia for the rollout of Mercedes-Benz Energy home and business lithium-ion stationary batteries.

The company says it hopes to have arrangements in place by the end of the year for the introduction of the modular batteries that can store power from photovoltaic solar cells for use at night, during blackouts or to “shave” consumption of electricity at peak load times.

Mercedes-Benz Australia/Pacific hopes to package the home batteries and inverter with its new $2000 garage wall charger for a one-stop solution for buyers of its new range of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs).

On the home battery front, Mercedes Energy batteries put the German company in direct competition with rival Tesla Motors whose $12,000 Powerwall batteries are already on sale in Australia.

But Mercedes is going beyond garage units, offering a range of commercial batteries holding up to 500 kilowatt hours of power in units up to the size of a shipping container for industrial use.

All of its batteries use the same modular battery cell – the size of a sheet of A4 paper but a centimetre thick – made at its huge new Accumotive battery factory in eastern Germany.

Speaking in Australia this week at the launch of the first three new Mercedes PHEVS – the C350e, GLE500e and S500e – Mercedes-Benz Energy head of European sales Andreas Rueckemann said Mercedes was seeking “some partners, not just one” to handle the distribution and installation of the stationary batteries in Australia.

GoAuto understands these potential partners are likely to include big energy providers.

The home battery systems have been on sale in Germany since April and, according to Mr Rueckemann, Mercedes sees great growth opportunities in stationary batteries as an extension of its automotive plug-in vehicle battery operation.

“We will invest dramatically in that,” he said, adding that Mercedes’ vision was to be the global leader in stationary energy storage.

“It is important for Daimler to show we are thinking green, not just on these cars but the other applications as well.”

Mr Rueckemann said Mercedes home batteries were typically between 2.5 and 20kWh, in easy-to-install stackable modular “plug and play” 2.5kWh 48-volt units of up to four in each stack.

He said installers were saying the units were so simple to fit that they could do the basic installation in just 20 minutes, although fitting the inverter takes up to an hour extra.

Unlike rival units, the Mercedes-Benz modular approach allows installation by one person, as each unit can be carried singlehandedly.

Each battery installation is capable of 8000 charge-discharge cycles, and comes with a two-year warranty.

To put its money where its mouth its, Mercedes-Benz Australia/Pacific’s head office in Mulgrave, Victoria, has just installed a new battery storage bank at its all-new plug-in car charging station within its carpark.

The batteries are fed by a large array of solar cells on the office roof.

While the Australian battery distribution networks are still under negotiation, Mercedes-Benz has already handed the business of installing its Mercedes-brand car wall chargers to a division of insurance company Allianz.

The price of these units have not yet been confirmed, but it is expected to be about $2000 plus installation.

The 16-amp chargers halve the charging time for one of Mercedes’ new PHEV vehicles from more than three hours to about 1.5 hours.

While Tesla and Mercedes have showed their hand on stationary batteries, other car-makers such as Volkswagen are also expected to launch similar ventures.

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