Ola Källenius: LinkedIn article from May 22, 2019
“First Move the World” – that’s our purpose at Mercedes-Benz Cars. That’s the deeper meaning of our work, what drives us, our “why”. “First Move the World” means going for more than just immediate objectives. This inner unrest for what’s next is part of our company’s DNA. Therefore, it’s also a cornerstone of the new sustainable business strategy we are currently working on. Although this strategy has several dimensions, one of the defining issues is how we address our CO₂ footprint. At Mercedes-Benz we strive for the best and our customers expect us to deliver sustainable and fascinating mobility. So, one of the key questions we are addressing is this: What are we doing to make sure our customers can switch to carbon neutral mobility in the future? The answer is our “Ambition2039”:
We aim to have a carbon-neutral new passenger car fleet in 20 years
Let’s be clear what this means for us: a fundamental transformation of our company within less than three product cycles. That’s not much time when you consider that fossil fuels have dominated our business since the invention of the car by Carl Benz and Gottlieb Daimler some 130 years ago. But as a company founded by engineers, we believe technology can also help to engineer a better future. Our way to sustainable mobility is innovation – in a holistic approach along the entire value chain.
We want to offer our customers a carbon-neutral driving experience
Today in Oslo, at the press test drive of our Mercedes-Benz EQC (combined electric energy consumption: 20.8 – 19.7 kWh/100 km; combined CO₂ emissions: 0 g/km**), we are introducing the first of an entire generation of electric Mercedes models. By 2030 we aim to have electric models make up more than half of our car sales – that includes all-electric cars and plug-in hybrids. We will continue to offer our customers performance and luxury from Mercedes. At the same time we want to significantly reduce CO₂ emissions per vehicle. Our R&D team is working together with established partners and startups alike to bring EV performance up and costs down.
Our approach also includes the continuous development of our mobility services, to spread the use of electric models. In addition to cars, we’re also electrifying our vans, trucks and buses. And the modular development enables the rapid transfer of technology between our divisions. Our current focus is on battery-electric mobility. But there’s also room and need to continue to work on other solutions, for example, the fuel cell or eFuels. Our GLC F-CELL (combined hydrogen consumption: 0.34 kg/100 km, combined CO₂ emissions: 0 g/km, combined power consumption: 13.7 kWh/100 km**) is one proof point. This technology will also find use in our city buses. Today, no one knows for sure which drivetrain mix will best serve our customers’ needs 20 years from now. That’s why we encourage policy makers to pave the way for tech neutrality: Let’s fix the target, but not the means to achieve it.
We strive for carbon-neutral production
Our Factory 56 is the blueprint: This new addition to our Sindelfingen plant uses renewable energy and will be CO₂-neutral from the start. Next, all of our European plants will follow by 2022. Our new production site in Jawor, Poland, shows how sustainability and cost efficiency go together: Not only does wind power make production greener, it also makes it more economical at this site than possible with conventional power. Electricity from renewable sources will also be used for production of the EQC at our plant in Bremen and our battery production in Kamenz, Saxony. A holistic view on carbon cutting also includes the recycling of raw materials. Mercedes cars have a potential recycling ratio of 85 percent. So, we are moving from a value chain to a value cycle.
We will drive our supply chain to follow our ambition
Driving our suppliers and partners to comply with our objective of carbon neutrality is important to us. The starting point is in creating transparency. To this end we are working with organizations like CDP to assess the environmental impact of our supply chain. Next, we are currently conducting workshops with suppliers to identify effective CO₂ reduction measures. Our goal is to establish CO₂ targets as one key criteria in making supplier decisions and contracts across all major commodities.
We inspire our customers for carbon-neutral mobility and enable access to emission free driving
Electricity in the life cycle of an electric car is – in some regions – a very significant source of CO₂ depending on how it’s generated. We want to inspire our customers to charge their green vehicles with green energy. With Mercedes Me Charge, for example, we enable drivers to conveniently charge their cars at various public charging stations in Europe, wherever possible with energy from renewable sources. But the transformation to a sustainable mobility of the future will only succeed if the auto industry, energy suppliers and policy makers are working hand in hand. It requires massive investments and tangible action also beyond the auto sector. Carbon-neutral energy and a comprehensive infrastructure are indispensable for this system change. And we are open to a discussion on effective CO₂ pricing as well as incentives for low/ no carbon technology – preferably on a global scale.
We mean it
To us the Paris Agreement is more than an obligation – it’s our conviction. And we have set a clear course to help prevent further acceleration of climate change. However, this transformation is a huge challenge – technologically and financially. After all, we want to make sustainable mobility even more exciting, not more expensive. And of course this is also about sustainable business results. How do we deal with this? One way would be to shy away and just try to safeguard the status quo. But that would not serve our purpose - and certainly not our future. So, we prefer doing what our founders have done: They became system architects of a new mobility without horses. Today, our task is individual mobility without emissions.
And again, it takes technology and determination. To underline that we mean it, part of the compensation of our board of management is linked to the achievement of our sustainability goals – including our CO₂ footprint. We’ll all have to get out of our comfort zones to find new ways to move forward. We’re seeking close alignment with our workforce and their representatives on this path. This transformation is the task of our generation and I’m absolutely confident: We have the right team to deliver. This strategy will help us stay in a leading position in the auto industry.