Electric Offensive in Production. German car plants serve as EV competence centers

Mercedes-Benz Cars is taking the next step in the implementation of its electric offensive: The Mercedes-Benz plant in Sindelfingen, Germany, will produce electric vehicles of the EQ brand, and is thus being developed into a competence center for battery-electric models of the large-size and luxury categories. Future EQ models are to be integrated into the series production of the existing Mercedes-Benz plants on four continents. The new generation of electric vehicles will be based on an architecture specifically developed for battery-electric models, which in every respect will be scalable and applicable across the model range.

Mercedes-Benz Cars is setting the strategic course for the production of electric vehicles within the global production network. In this way, we are taking advantage of the opportunities offered by electric mobility and are significantly limiting the required investment. We have invested worldwide at an early stage in flexibility and technical equipment with groundbreaking Industry 4.0 solutions. With our plants in Bremen, Rastatt and Sindelfingen as well as the smart plant in Hambach, France, we now have four competence centers for the production of electric vehicles.

Markus Schäfer, Member of the Divisional Board of Management of Mercedes-Benz Cars, Production and Supply Chain Management

All three German Mercedes-Benz car plants Bremen, Rastatt and Sindelfingen will play a key role for electric mobility in the global production network: They are competitive on a worldwide basis with regard to the production portfolio as well as innovation capability, and will offer the employees good prospects for the future.

Qualification in the competence centers

Mercedes-Benz Cars, with the brands Mercedes-Benz and smart, has solid experience in the integration of electric vehicles into series production. Since April 2014, the B-Class Electric Drive has been produced at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Rastatt on the same line as vehicles with combustion engines. Already in 2007, smart was a pioneer of electric mobility and launched a battery-electric car on the market. This year, the fourth generation of the smart fortwo electric drive will go into production as coupé and convertible versions on the same line as the smart cars with conventional drive.

The new electric vehicles of the EQ brand are also to be integrated into normal series production as additional drive versions at the existing plants. Innovative and future-oriented production technology places new requirements on the employees, for which they are receiving intensive training. Special qualification programs are planned, for example in the area of high-voltage technology under production conditions. Junior management staff members are also being prepared in their training for working with the technologies of the future.

Electric offensive by Mercedes-Benz Cars

Mercedes-Benz Cars is consolidating all activities in connection with electric mobility under the new product brand EQ, and the Concept EQ gives a clear outlook onto a completely new generation of vehicles. Mercedes-Benz Cars plans to launch more than ten electric vehicles by 2025: in all segments from smart to large SUVs. The company assumes that until 2025 the proportion of electric vehicles in total unit sales of Mercedes-Benz will be between 15 and 25 percent. This is dependent on on the development of infrastructure and client preferences.

By 2022 Mercedes-Benz will offer at least one electric model in each model series.

TecFactory and Electric Integration Center (EIC)

In order to play a leading role with future products and production technologies, Mercedes-Benz has established the TecFactory to link up its departments for design, development, procurement, sales, and production. The various departments cooperate closely already at a very early stage of product development. A major role is played by thorough digitization: It creates the right conditions for highly flexible production and the increasing individualization of cars in accordance with customers’ wishes. In the context of Industry 4.0 and the smart factory, all Mercedes-Benz plants are connected with each other, allowing central access to data and process control.

Another joint initiative of production and development is the new Electric/Electronic Integration Center (EIC). The goal here is to prepare the electric/electronic architecture of Mercedes-Benz vehicles for future challenges arising from electric drive, connected vehicles, autonomous driving and flexible usage concepts. For this purpose, mixed teams will move into the EIC, which is to be located at the Sindelfingen site.

Cultural change in production

With the digital change and the orientation towards future technologies, the working culture in production will also change. The diversity of vehicle versions due to the various drivetrain technologies will require a highly flexible production system focused on humans with their tactile and cognitive abilities. By means of intelligent human-robot cooperation, the degree of automation will be reduced and workplaces in production will be ergonomically optimized.

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