The Factory 56 is probably the most famous example of sustainable production at Mercedes-Benz Cars. But numerous other measures and initiatives demonstrate: The company is also changing lanes in production. Jörg Burzer, Member of the Board of Management of Mercedes-Benz AG, Production and Supply Chain, on the sustainable transformation of his division.
Mr. Burzer, the production of Mercedes-Benz has been undergoing a sustainable transformation for years. Are we changing because we have to or because we want to?
Both: Of course, we are aware of our social responsibility as an automobile manufacturer. It is not enough to meet legal requirements, but rather we want to actively shape and promote sustainable automotive production. At the same time, however, we also notice that our customers have different requirements for our products than they did a few years ago. This transformation is also reflected in our product range. By 2022, we want to offer alternatives with different levels of electrification in all segments of Mercedes-Benz Cars. Starting with vehicles with electrified combustion engines and 48V, through plug-in hybrids to fully battery-powered models.
With the Factory 56, a high-tech production facility has opened in fall, which focuses on the topic of sustainability. What is the difference between Factory 56 and other production halls?
As the blueprint for our global production network, the Factory 56 makes a significant contribution to the Group's sustainability goals. Sustainable concepts have been consistently implemented across the entire hall and can therefore be experienced in many places. This starts with the front facade of the building, for which recycled concrete from demolition material was used for the first time. In addition, 40% of the roof area is greened, so that we can not only store rainwater, but also isolate the building in a natural way. Furthermore, production is completely paperless, as we will be mapping processes digitally in the future. A special highlight: The Factory 56 will produce CO₂ neutrally right from the start, making it a Zero Carbon Factory. All in all, the required energy consumption is reduced by a quarter compared to other production halls. Our own photovoltaic system on the roof consists of more than 12,000 modules with an output of more than 5,000 KWp. It covers around 30 percent of the hall's annual power consumption.
What will the production of electric vehicles change in the future?
In the global production network of Mercedes-Benz Cars, we have been working consistently for years on implementing our electric offensive. Electric vehicles from our product and technology brand EQ will be integrated into the series production of existing Mercedes-Benz passenger car plants. Highly flexible structures allow us to produce vehicles with different drive systems on a single production line, which means that we can respond flexibly and quickly to changes in market demand. Thus, we are optimally using the opportunities offered by electro mobility and significantly limit the need for investments. We will produce electric vehicles at various locations in our production network. These include Sindelfingen, Rastatt and Tuscaloosa, for example. And last year, production of our Mercedes-Benz EQC started very successfully in Bremen and then in Beijing.
With Kamenz, Mercedes-Benz operates its own battery competence centre. What role does the location play in the global electrical network?
The local production of batteries is an important success factor in our electric offensive and the decisive building block to serve the worldwide demand for Mercedes-Benz electric vehicles flexibly and efficiently. We are investing more than one billion euros in a global battery production network, which is an important part of the worldwide production network of Mercedes-Benz Cars. I am convinced that our production network is very well prepared for future mobility.
With the Ambition2039, production has also committed itself to making its contribution to decarbonization. How do you imagine the production of the future?
In order to make a difference, we have to look at the issue of decarbonization holistically. For us at Mercedes-Benz Cars Operations, this means that we are pushing ahead with CO₂ reduction not only within our plants, but also in transport logistics. With the switch to CO₂-free rail transport, we are taking a major step towards this goal. Rail transport of vehicle components within Germany and towards Kecskemét is now CO₂-free. Regarding our cars, we are committed to reducing the energy consumption in the production of a vehicle by around 40% by 2030. From 2022 onwards, Mercedes-Benz AG's own plants worldwide will also be producing CO₂-neutral.
It makes me proud that…
"…we are aware of our social responsibility and implement concrete measures to make sustainable vehicle production a reality."
In the morning, I like to get up because...
"...as part of a great production team, I can contribute every day - together with partners of Mercedes-Benz Cars - to put the world's most desirable cars on the road for our customers."
For me, sustainability means in my private life…
"…among other things, no more cardboard cups to use for my coffee and to compensate for the CO₂ pollution of my flights, or, whenever possible, not to fly. We also installed a photovoltaic system at home."