Mercedes-Benz expands global battery-production network
Mercedes-Benz’s electric offensive is in full swing. The company already offers various electrified models in each segment - from the 48-volt electric system (EQ Boost) and plug-in hybrids (EQ Power) to fully electrically powered vehicles (EQ). The focus is clearly on gradually increasing the percentage of purely electrically powered vehicles in the Mercedes-Benz Cars portfolio. By the end of this year, Mercedes-Benz will offer five purely electric models as well as 20 plug-in hybrids. In a few years, more than ten fully electric EQ models will be in series production. Mercedes-Benz Cars’ new-car fleet is to become CO2-neutral in less than 20 years. By 2030, the company wants plug-in hybrids or purely electric vehicles to account for more than 50% of its passenger-car sales.
Accordingly, local battery production is an important success factor for Mercedes-Benz's electric offensive and the key element for meeting the global demand for electrified vehicles flexibly and efficiently. Deutsche Accumotive GmbH & Co. KG is a wholly owned subsidiary of Mercedes-Benz AG and has been producing drivetrain batteries for electric and electrified vehicles of the Mercedes-Benz and smart brands as well as for light commercial vehicles since 2012. In Kamenz, about 50 kilometres from Dresden, the company has two factories that manufacture drivetrain batteries for electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles as well as batteries for 48-volt systems. The Mercedes-Benz subsidiary Accumotive acts as a competence centre within the global battery production network of Mercedes-Benz Cars, which has nine battery factories at seven locations on three continents. Accumotive has more than 10 years of experience in the efficient production of highly complex battery systems. Thanks to a close interlinking and consistent digitalisation of production processes, all locations of the global Mercedes-Benz battery production network benefit from this expertise. Additional locations in Europe and the U.S. will soon start operations to meet global battery needs for vehicle production.
“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," says Jörg Burzer, Member of the Board of Management of Mercedes-Benz AG, Production and Supply Chain Management. “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.”
Since Accumotive’s start of production, the Kamenz plant has produced well over half a million batteries based on lithium-ion technology for electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles as well as for 48-volt systems. Expanding the plant with a second battery factory that opened in 2018 was an important step for the company’s electric offensive and in meeting the growing demand for highly efficient batteries for electrified and electric drives. The company is gradually increasing its production capacities. The second battery factory at the Kamenz plant produces battery systems for the Mercedes-Benz EQC (combined power consumption: 20.8-19.7 kWh/100 km; combined CO2 emissions: 0 g/km), among other things. Producing this highly complex lithium-ion battery requires multiple production lines that are approximately 170 meters long, each with more than 30 production stations and with a high number of production steps. Absolute precision is necessary to manufacture the battery systems consisting of 384 battery cells and many other components. The battery cells, for example, are welded with a laser with a tolerance of only 2µm using modern automation technology.
“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. 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 Jörg Burzer.
The Kamenz plant has two battery factories and a total production and logistics area of 80,000 square meters. The second battery factory, which opened in 2018, runs on state-of-the-art equipment and uses a wide range of Industry 4.0 technologies. It was also designed as a CO2-neutral factory right from the beginning and thus plays a pioneering role with regard to Mercedes-Benz AG’s sustainability goals: a combined heat and power plant and a 2-megawatt photovoltaic system combined with geothermal energy power the production plant. The entire building is designed according to the production flow and lines. Special assembly equipment ergonomically assists and makes it easier for employees to handle heavy parts. The plant uses a variety of Industry 4.0 technologies, such as digital control and production tracking. Among other things, this guarantees the complete traceability of every delivered battery and its components, including all its production data. Around 1,300 people are currently employed at the Kamenz plant.
Mercedes-Benz is investing more than one billion EUR into the establishment of a global battery production network within the worldwide production network of Mercedes-Benz Cars. This battery production network will consist of nine factories at seven locations on three continents.
“The Kamenz plant is one of the pioneers in battery production worldwide and, in its function as the competence centre, it is a blueprint for the plants in our global battery production network. After Kamenz, Bangkok and Beijing, the next location to soon start battery production will be Jawor in Poland, followed by plants around Stuttgart as well as Tuscaloosa in the U.S. Each new plant will benefit from the experience of the other plants. Our battery production network is well prepared for the future of mobility,” says Jörg Burzer.
The Kamenz plant has already been producing batteries since 2012. The second battery factory started operations in 2018, producing the battery systems for the Mercedes-Benz EQC, among other things. Together with its local partner Thonburi Automotive Assembly Plant (TAAP), Mercedes-Benz Cars has set up a battery production facility in Bangkok (Thailand), which started operations in 2019. Mercedes-Benz and BAIC have jointly set up a local battery production facility at the existing plant location in the Yizhuang Industrial Park in Beijing (China). Production at a battery factory in Jawor, Poland, will start in 2020. At the Mercedes-Benz plant in Untertürkheim, Germany, battery factories are currently being built at the Brühl and Hedelfingen locations. A battery factory is also currently being built near the existing Mercedes-Benz plant in Tuscaloosa, USA. A new battery factory will also be built at the Mercedes-Benz Sindelfingen plant.