Mercedes-Benz has created a new division known as EQ to produce fully electric cars. It plans to offer as many as 10 electric car models ranging from ultra compact ‘smart’ cars (European auto makers love to avoid capital letters when it comes to naming brands and models) to large SUVs and sedans by 2022. Come 2025, it expects electrics will account for up to 25% of sales. Beginning in 2020, every ‘smart’ car will be electric.
Last week, Dieter Zetsche, CEO of Daimler, met with French president Emmanuel Macron. Afterward, he announced the first compact EQ cars will be manufactured at the Hambach factory in northeastern France. Hambach is located due west of Daimler headquarters in Stuttgart in the Alsace Lorraine region that has been part of France and part of Germany at various times over the centuries.
— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) May 18, 2018
Zetsche said, “20 years ago we started an exemplary German-Franco project with the production of the smart in Hambach. Now we take the next step and for the first time in our more than 100 year old history, we bring the production of Mercedes Benz to France. With the compact EQ model from Hambach, we continue our electric initiative.” According to NDTV, Mercedes Benz will invest € 500 million for the construction of new facilities at the Hambach factory to expand the assembly line with a new body shop featuring state of the art manufacturing technology.
Markus Schäfer, who heads production and supply chain operations for Mercedes Benz, says, “With the production of a compact electric car in Hambach, we are adding further capacities for our electric initiative at six locations on three continents. The smart plant in Hambach will become a part of our global compact car production network with the lead plant in Rastatt, Germany.”
The Hambach factory was the first to produce an electric car for Mercedes Benz — an electric version of the smart for two in 1997. Now it will leverage those two decades of experience to build the first EQ compact electric vehicles. “The Hambach site in France features many years of experience in building fully electric cars. We want to take advantage of the enormous expertise and prepare the plant for the production of an electric Mercedes-Benz,” says Annette Winkler, head of ‘smart’. “We are investing a total of around 500 million euros in the Hambach plant and in the product.” The factory is powered by 100% renewable energy.
The first EQ model, the EQC electric SUV, will begin production next year at a factory in Bremen.