December 14, 2020 - Mercedes-Benz is targeting leadership in electric drives and vehicle software. The consistent electrification of the entire product portfolio is a key element of the strategic focus "Ambition 2039" and a prerequisite on the way to CO₂ neutrality. In 2022 the portfolio includes eight all-electric Mercedes-EQ models. The global Mercedes-Benz production network is ready for the company’s electric product offensive and is integrating its Mercedes-EQ models into series production in its existing plants.
With its ‘Electric First’ strategy, Mercedes-Benz is consistently on the path to CO₂ neutrality and is investing heavily in transformation. Our vehicle portfolio becomes electric and thus also our global production network with vehicle and battery factories. We intend to lead in the field of e-mobility and focus in particular on battery technology. We are taking a comprehensive approach, ranging from research and development to production, and also including strategic cooperation.
The EQS, the first electric luxury sedan from Mercedes-Benz, will start in the first half of 2021 in Factory 56 at the Sindelfingen site (Germany). With the production launch of the electric compact SUV EQA at the Rastatt plant (Germany) and the current decision to locate EQB production in the Hungarian plant in Kecskemét, the company is taking further important steps toward making its product portfolio CO₂ neutral. The course has also been set toward “Electric First” in the global powertrain production network as well. High-efficiency battery systems will also be manufactured and assembled within the production network.
The Mercedes-Benz production network is global, digital and flexible, and ready for the upcoming electric offensive – thanks, of course, to our highly qualified and motivated employees worldwide. We are now beginning a real Mercedes-EQ fireworks display. Six electric product launches by 2022 underscore the strength and competence of our Mercedes-Benz production sites worldwide. The production network will have a total of six Mercedes-EQ car locations. Local production of highly efficient battery systems plays a central role in the Mercedes-Benz strategy - coupled with a comprehensive sustainability concept that spans the entire life cycle of the battery all the way to recycling.
Mercedes-Benz vehicle plants consistently implement electric offensive
In May 2019 production of the EQC (combined power consumption: 21.5 kWh/100 km; combined CO₂ emissions: 0 g/km)* ** at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Bremen (Germany) was integrated into ongoing series production. Just a few months later the German-Chinese production joint venture, Beijing Benz Automotive Co. Ltd. (BBAC), launched EQC production for the local market in China. In 2020 production of the EQV premium electric MPV (combined power consumption: 26.4 kWh/100 km; combined CO₂ emissions: 0 g/km)* ** started in Vitoria, northern Spain.
Compact car class customers can look forward to two fully electric compact SUVs in the EQA and EQB in 2021. EQA will celebrate its world premiere on January, 20 2021 as the first fully electric derivative of this compact car. The EQA production launch at the Mercedes-Benz Rastatt plant went smoothly. As with the EQC from Bremen and Beijing and the EQV from Vitoria, which are already on the market, the fully electric models at the Rastatt plant run on the same production line as compact vehicles with conventional and hybrid drives. That means all five vehicles produced in Rastatt are electrified: In addition to the fully electric EQA, the A Class, A-Class sedan, B-Class and the compact SUV GLA are also produced at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Rastatt - with classic combustion engines as well as plug-in hybrid drive. With that the Mercedes-Benz Rastatt plant is making an important contribution on the road to a CO₂ neutral vehicle fleet and to the Mercedes-Benz AG electric offensive. EQA production will also follow next year (2021) at BBAC in Beijing for the Chinese market.
EQB production will launch in 2021 at two locations in the global Mercedes-Benz Cars production network: in the Hungarian Mercedes-Benz plant in Kecskemét for the world market and in the German-Chinese joint venture BBAC in Beijing for the local market. Plant preparation, including employee training and renovation work, is already underway. The compact SUV EQB will be the first purely electrically powered production vehicle from Hungary and will complement the plug-in hybrid portfolio consisting of the CLA and CLA Shooting Brake. The A-Class will also be produced in Kecskemét with a plug-in hybrid drive, in addition to production in the German Mercedes-Benz plant in Rastatt.
Furthermore, in the first half of 2021 production of the EQS electric luxury sedan will begin in Factory 56 at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Sindelfingen (Germany). EQS is the independent, fully electric member in the new S-Class program and is the first to use the new electric architecture for luxury and upper-class electric vehicles at Mercedes-Benz. In Factory 56 the S-Class and, in the future, the Mercedes-Maybach S-Class, and the EQS will be produced in a fully flexible manner on the same line. Factory 56 embodies the future of production at Mercedes-Benz and sets new standards for automobile construction. In Factory 56 efficiency gains of around 25 percent are achieved compared to the previous S-Class assembly. This is made possible by optimizing the entire value chain and full digitalization with MO360, the digital Mercedes-Benz production ecosystem.
Furthermore, the Mercedes-Benz plant in Bremen will begin production of the EQE business sedan in the second half of 2021, followed shortly thereafter at the Beijing plant. The EQE thus complements the all electric portfolio of the two plants. The Beijing plant will then produce a total of four Mercedes-EQ models for the local market.
The Mercedes-Benz plant in Tuscaloosa (USA) is also preparing for production of the EQE SUV and EQS SUV in 2022, which will be produced in the future on the same line with SUVs with conventional and plug-in hybrid drives.
In 2022 a total of eight Mercedes-EQ electric vehicles will be produced at seven locations on three continents. This is possible because the company made early investments worldwide in flexibility and technical equipment with future-oriented Industry 4.0 solutions. In the Mercedes-Benz AG plants, vehicles with different drive types can be produced in parallel thanks to highly flexible structures. With a view to the strategic goal of generating more than half of sales with so-called xEVs, i.e. plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles, from 2030 on and gradually increasing the purely electric share, the high degree of flexibility is a decisive advantage. It enables production to be adjusted at short notice depending on market demand.
smart rounds off the electric Mercedes-Benz Cars portfolio with three additional models. The smart EQ fortwo (combined power consumption: 16.5 kWh/100 km, combined CO₂ emissions: 0 g/km)* ** and smart EQ fortwo Cabrio (combined power consumption: 16.8 kWh/100 km, CO₂ emissions combined: 0 g/km)* ** are produced in Hambach, France, and the smart EQ forfour (combined power consumption: 17.3 kWh/100 km; combined CO₂ emissions: 0 g/km)* ** in Novo Mesto, Slovenia. The next generation of smart electric vehicles will be produced by the joint venture smart Automobile Co., Ltd. in China. This is a joint venture of Mercedes Benz AG and the Zhejiang Geely Group (Geely Holding).
Plug-in hybrid drive is important as a key technology and intermediate step toward a purely electric product portfolio. More than 20 plug-in hybrid model variants are already an integral part of the Mercedes-Benz product portfolio. The portfolio will be expanded to include more than 25 model variants by 2025. Their production therefore also plays an important role in the global production network. Plug-in hybrid vehicles are already rolling off Mercedes-Benz Cars assembly lines in almost all car plants.
Mr. Burzer, are you equipped for the production of electric vehicles in your production network?
The Mercedes-EQ production network is ready for our electric offensive. We started this transformation several years ago and set up our plants with maximum flexibility. The Mercedes-EQ electric models are gradually being integrated into our existing vehicle plants worldwide. They come off the same lines as vehicles with combustion engines or plug-in hybrid drives. The same applies to all of our Mercedes-Benz car plants - a total of six on three continents. This concept is particularly advantageous because demand for electric and electrified vehicles is developing very differently by region and we can adjust our production planning accordingly on short notice. In this way we can manufacture exactly what our customers want.
What specifically does your production planning for the upcoming model offensive look like?
One thing is certain: the proportion of all-electric vehicles in our portfolio will increase sharply in the coming years. By 2030 more than fifty percent of our vehicles will roll off the assembly line as so-called xEVs. Plug-in hybrids and hybrids will therefore continue to play an important role in our production planning over the next few years. However, our target is clearly designed for 100 percent Mercedes-EQ and we are directing our capacity precisely in this direction. We are preparing our production, as well as our employees, step by step for this change. Our sustainability concept is also a central focus: from 2022 on we will produce CO₂ neutral in our Mercedes-Benz plants worldwide.
What, specifically, were the challenges?
Every vehicle launch during ongoing production comes with challenges. That, of course, also applies to electric vehicles. However, thanks to the know-how in our plants and cross-location system planning, we could quickly develop and implement flexible solutions. The consistent digitalization of our processes through our digital production ecosystem MO360 also made a significant contribution. An important factor here, of course, is attaining targeted qualifications for our colleagues in our plants, which we consistently promote.
How will powertrain production continue in the future?
For the global Mercedes-Benz powertrain production network, the shift toward e-mobility poses a special challenge. However, we are determined to continue aligning our drive division to this change and make it sustainable for the future. We have already built up extensive know-how in our powertrain plants in recent years. It starts with the expansion of our battery production network and includes, among other things, manufacturing and assembling parts of the electric drivetrain ourselves. Still, it’s also clear that the drivetrains of the future will differ significantly from those of today.
You will manufacture the batteries for the Mercedes-EQ models in house?
The local production of batteries is an essential success factor in our electric offensive. With a view to steadily increasing demand and, in accordance with our production planning, we are setting up our global battery production network to be flexible worldwide. Today we already produce batteries in Kamenz, Bangkok and Beijing. The ramp-up of our battery plants in Hedelfingen and Jawor is imminent and our colleagues in Brühl and Tuscaloosa are already preparing to start production in 2022. Our production network is very well positioned for the Mercedes-EQ model offensive.
Which new electric model are you personally most looking forward to?
Basically, I look forward to every new Mercedes-Benz. A very special milestone is certainly the upcoming EQS production launch. It will roll off the assembly line, together with the S-Class, in our new Factory 56 at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Sindelfingen. Here we’re setting the course for our entire production network: With the most modern production technologies Factory 56 is a blueprint for our global network. At the same time, it bolsters our claim - the Mercedes way - to the production of the Mercedes-EQ models: completely digital and flexible, highly efficient and maximally sustainable.