German car maker Mercedes-Benz has announced a plan to expand its electric vehicle battery production facilities to nine factories in seven locations across Europe, North America and Asia, starting with its battery factory in Kamenz, Saxony.
All in all, Mercedes-Benz plans to invest more than one billion euros ($A1.65 billion) in building a global battery production network that will rival the likes of Tesla and Panasonic, South Korea’s LG Chem, China’s CATL, and fellow German battery maker Northvolt.
Mercedes-Benz plans to offer by the end of 2020 five battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and 20 plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs), and by 2025 there will be a total of 10 BEVs on offer bearing Mercedes-Benz’ electric EQ name.
Its EQ family of electric vehicles already has the EQC SUV which is available in Australia from $137,900, and the German brand opened orders on Tuesday in Europe for its next electric model, the EQV large electric van.
Since 2012, the wholly-owned Mercedes-Benz subsidiary Deutsche Accumotive has been producing batteries for the Group’s electric, hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles in Kamenz.
The company opened a second plant there two years ago, and Mercedes-Benz is now reporting that the annual battery pack production volume in Kamenz will soon exceed the 500,000 output mark.
The second battery factory at the Kamenz site is the location for production of 80kWh battery packs for the Mercedes-Benz EQC.
“As a competence centre within our global battery-production network, the Kamenz site – with its broad product portfolio – plays a decisive role in the implementation of our “Electric first” offensive,” said Jörg Burzer, member of Mercedes-Benz AG’s production and supply chain management board in a statement to the press.
“Flexibility is the decisive feature of our global production network of vehicle and powertrain plants. Our goal is an organic global network in which production capacities can be flexibly shifted between plants around the world.
“With more than 10 fully electric EQ models and a large number of plug-in hybrid and hybrid vehicles – for which we produce the battery systems here in Kamenz and within our global network – we can flexibly and efficiently meet the worldwide demand for electric and hybrid vehicles and gradually increase the electrical share within our vehicle range.”
Mercedes-Benz plans a gradual ramp up of battery production as it expands its battery production facilities.
“With the plant expansion and successive production ramp-up, we have now expanded production in Kamenz to such an extent that we will soon exceed an annual production volume of more than half a million lithium-ion batteries – and that number will rise,” says Burzer.
“Together with our colleagues in research and development and many partners and suppliers around the world, we ensure that the batteries for our electric and electrified vehicles meet the high-quality standards of Mercedes-Benz.
“We are also getting ready for the next generation of EQ models in Kamenz: electrical variants in the compact segment are not that far away,” says Burzer.
The second plant in Kamenz was designed by Mercedes-Benz as a CO2-neutral factory. A photovoltaic system with an output of 2MW and a combined heat and power plant supply the production systems with energy in conjunction with geothermal energy.
The plant also uses a variety of Industry 4.0 technologies, such as the digital control of production systems. This guarantees, among other things, the full traceability of every battery and its components, including all of their manufacturing data.
After the expansion of the Kamenz facility, Mercedes-Benz plans to open a new battery plant in Jawor, Poland, followed by plants around Stuttgart as well as Tuscaloosa in the US, says Burzer.
“Each new plant will benefit from the experience of the other plants. Our battery production network is well prepared for the future of mobility,” he says.
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Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles for two years. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.