By Kingsley I. Ilechukwu
Mercedes-Benz and Contemporary Amperex Technology Co., Limited ( CATL) have entered the next stage of their strategic partnership and will create cutting-edge battery technology in support of the high-volume electrification of the Mercedes-Benz model portfolio.
The Stuttgart-based luxury car maker with the three-pointed star is accelerating its “Electric First” strategy with advanced, CO2-neutrally produced battery cells, modules and systems supplied by CATL, a technology leader in lithium-ion batteries. The agreement covers the full range of battery technologies, from cells across modules for Mercedes-Benz passenger cars to entire battery systems for Mercedes-Benz Vans in promising innovative technology configurations. This also includes the CATL cell-to-pack (CTP) design, which eliminates conventional modules and integrates the cells directly into the battery.
”We intend to lead in battery technologies, so we are now combining our own research and development expertise with bold partners. We will integrate cutting-edge battery systems to create luxury cars with outstanding range, charging speed, safety and sustainability. Working with CATL will see us accelerate our transformation towards carbon-neutrality,” said Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Mercedes-Benz AG, responsible for Daimler Group Research and Mercedes-Benz Cars COO, Markus Schäfer. “CATL will be a major supplier securing capacity for the next generations of our EQ products in the years to come.“
“Mercedes-Benz is a special and important partner to CATL. We are very pleased to further expand and upgrade the partnership for both parties’ future development. Mercedes invented the car more than 130 years ago and has developed its technology with countless innovations. This combined with CATL’s expertise in battery, will be a decisive step in both parties’ electrification strategies,” said Founder, Chairman and CEO of CATL, Dr. Robin Zeng. “Together we will collaborate on developing and delivering reliable, competitive solutions to promote worldwide e-mobility.”
Electrification of its model portfolio with innovative battery technologies
Battery cells are at the heart of highly complex battery systems. Their chemistry contributes significantly to the performance, range and service life of electric vehicles. Through its strategic partnership with CATL, Mercedes-Benz will advance its development of current and future best-in-class lithium-ion batteries. The two partners have already started working on future battery generations to be introduced in a number of vehicles within the next few years. The clear goal is to shorten development cycles, significantly increase the ranges of future batteries through advances in energy density and reduce charging times. In order to make electrification even more attractive for customers in the luxury segment, the goals set are ambitious: With the EQS luxury sedan, which will be delivered to customers next year, the development goal is a long-distance range of more than 700 km (WLTP range) and a doubling of the charging speed compared to current models. The Mercedes-Benz EQS will also be equipped with CATL cell modules.
“Daimler will continue to strengthen its global competitiveness and enhance efficiency by working with strong and innovative partners to pursue our future strategy, including electric mobility. In China, we have established strong cooperation with key industry and technology players over the years that have contributed not only to our strong growth momentum but also brought efficiency in production, purchasing and research and development”, said Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG, responsible for Greater China, Hubertus Troska. “We are now pleased to bring our partnership with CATL, a world-leading battery manufacturer from China, to a new level and will further integrate this partnership into our strategy of ‘Electric First’ and sustainable development. We believe such partnership will enable Daimler to continue to delight our customers with technology leadership and accelerated innovation.” Mercedes-Benz and CATL are committed to engineer and produce quality- and performance- leading batteries with the most sustainable footprint possible.
Battery products from carbon-neutral production
With “Ambition2039”, Mercedes-Benz is pursuing the long-term vision of a climate-neutral new passenger car fleet and is actively driving the transformation to CO2-neutrality. In order to minimize the carbon footprint of current and future vehicle generations, the partners have agreed to the carbon-neutral production of battery products. To enable this, CATL will use electricity from renewable energy sources, such as wind, solar and hydropower for its production. CO2-neutral battery cell production alone can save over 30 per cent of the CO2 footprint of an entire battery. At the beginning of 2020, Mercedes-Benz and CATL had already launched a joint pilot project using blockchain technology to create transparency on the emissions of climate-damaging gases and the proportion of secondary material along the battery cell supply chain. The next step is to significantly reduce the reliance on raw material mining through the recycling of end-of-life batteries.
“Within the framework of this newly established strategic partnership, CATL fully commits to Mercedes-Benz AG’s sustainability goals including ‘Ambition 2039’. This includes sustainable production with renewable energy, the minimum CO2 footprint in terms of logistics within the whole supply chain and respect for all aspects of social responsibility. CATL will ensure CO2 neutral battery production and maximize CO2 reduction in the battery supply chain for the next generation Mercedes-Benz EQ starting with the EQS,” said president of CATL, Zhou Jia. “I am convinced that this partnership will open new opportunities for both companies to create a sustainable business and speed-up the transition of our industry.”
Industrialization of a key technology in Germany
The strategic partnership of Mercedes-Benz and CATL accelerates the further development and industrialization of cutting-edge battery technologies in Germany. With the construction of CATL’s Thuringia plant, CATL is developing a European service system to offer Mercedes-Benz more competitive products, as well as a smooth supply. This will allow Mercedes-Benz to further increase the degree of localization in procurement and to purchase battery products from the CATL plant near Erfurt in the future. In order to maintain competitiveness, the company continues to rely on a balanced set of suppliers.
Within its global production network, Mercedes-Benz focuses on the production of highly efficient battery systems and the establishment of a global battery production network. In future, it will consist of nine factories at seven locations on three continents. Local battery production is an important success factor for the electric offensive of Mercedes-Benz AG and the key element in being able to flexibly and efficiently meet the global demand for electric vehicles.