7 August 2020
Daimler has announced that its Mercedes-Benz brand will enter the next stage of its strategic partnership with Chinese electric-vehicle (EV) battery specialist Contemporary Amperex Technology (CATL).
The carmaker is accelerating its ‘Electric First’ strategy with advanced, ‘CO2-neutral production’ battery cells, modules and systems supplied by the specialist manufacturer. The agreement covers the full range of battery technologies, from cells across modules for passenger cars to entire battery systems for vans, in promising innovative technology configurations.
‘We intend to lead in battery technologies, so we are now combining our own research and development expertise with bold partners. We will integrate cutting-edge battery systems to create luxury cars with outstanding range, charging speed, safety and sustainability. Working with CATL will see us accelerate our transformation towards carbon-neutrality,’ said Markus Schäfer, Mercedes-Benz Cars COO. ‘CATL will be a major supplier securing capacity for the next generations of our EQ products in the years to come.’
The two companies have already started working on future battery generations that Daimler hopes to introduce into several new vehicles. There are clear aims in the partnership – to shorten development cycles of batteries, increase their range through advances in energy density, and improve charging times so drivers can spend less time plugged in and more time on the road.
However, Daimler also wants to make electric more attractive for customers in the luxury segment and has ambitious goals to achieve this. With the EQS luxury saloon, which will be delivered to customers next year, the development goal is a long-distance range of more than 700km (under WLTP testing) and a doubling of the charging speed compared to current models.
Like many others, Daimler has plans for all aspects of its vehicle production to be carbon-neutral in the future. The German carmaker is pursuing these plans under its ‘Ambition 2039’ strategy.
To minimise the carbon footprint of current and future vehicle generations, the partners have agreed to the carbon-neutral production of battery products. To enable this, CATL will use electricity from renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and hydropower for its production. There is also a stipulation that the Chinese company must ensure a minimum carbon footprint in its supply chain.
CO2-neutral battery cell production alone can save over 30% of the CO2 footprint of an entire battery. This will help drive down the impact of an EV over its lifetime, which will add to the technology’s appeal, especially with conflicting reports over how clean it is.
‘CATL will ensure CO2 neutral battery production and maximise CO2 reduction in the battery supply chain for the next-generation Mercedes-Benz EQ starting with the EQS,’ said Zhou Jia, president of CATL. ‘I am convinced that this partnership will open new opportunities for both companies to create a sustainable business and speed up the transition of our industry.’
Battery sustainability has recently become a big talking point. Earlier this year, Northvolt announced it was developing a recycling facility for spent units, while BMW is creating a closed and sustainable material cycle for battery cells. A pilot lithium-ion battery-cell plant will be built in Parsdorf, near Munich, and is scheduled to commence operations in late 2022.