One of the largest EV battery producers on the planet, CATL, and a luxury automaker out of Germany you might have heard of, Mercedes-Benz, have teamed up to “lead in battery technology.”
In particular, they are combining their R&D efforts. Furthermore, it’s clear that Mercedes-Benz has gotten more series about integrated battery production in Germany. “Mercedes-Benz and CATL will jointly boost the industrialization of lithium-ion batteries in Germany,” the company writes.
The batteries are also supposed to be produced in a CO2-neutral way. Since that clearly can’t yet be done fully in the production process, it must imply CO2 offsets when necessary. Factories powered by renewable energy (solar, wind, and water) are also part of the strategy, though, as is eventual battery recycling.
The partnership covers battery cells, battery modules, and battery packs. It does not appear to cover mining.
As you might have guessed, the duo did mention CATL’s famed new cell-to-back (CTP) battery approach, which cuts out middle technologies and processes and thus cuts costs.
CATL seems proud to partner with the storied Mercedes-Benz brand.
“Mercedes-Benz is a special and important partner to CATL. We are very pleased to further expand and upgrade the partnership for both parties’ future development. Mercedes invented the car more than 130 years ago and has developed its technology with countless innovations. This combined with CATL’s expertise in battery, will be a decisive step in both parties’ electrification strategies,” said Dr. Robin Zeng, Founder, Chairman and CEO of CATL. “Together we will collaborate on developing and delivering reliable, competitive solutions to promote worldwide e-mobility.”
Of course, this partnership is critical to Mercedes-Benz not just leading but actually surviving in the emerging electric auto industry. CATL is not Mercedes-Benz’s only battery supplier, but I cannot imagine the company being able to proceed adequately without this partnership. “With the construction of CATL’s Thuringia plant, CATL is developing a European service system to offer Mercedes-Benz more competitive products, as well as a smooth supply. This will allow Mercedes-Benz to further increase the degree of localization in procurement and to purchase battery products from the CATL plant near Erfurt in the future,” the Mercedes-Benz press release notes.
“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, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Mercedes-Benz AG, responsible for Daimler Group Research and 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 companies say they are already working on next-generation batteries for models coming “within the next few years.”
Apart from improving range, energy density, and charging times, one interesting thing to see noted is that they want to shorten development cycles. This is one area where Tesla has upended the auto market a bit. It has quite short development cycles with rapid innovation and ongoing improvements to models (both over-the-air software improvements and rolling hardware improvements rather than “model years.”) Aside from batteries, perhaps this is an indication that Mercedes-Benz is trying to become more flexible and quicker to both innovate and implement new technologies. Nothing like a California teenager to wake you up!
On the topic of range, though, one point highlighted by the companies is that they are targeting a range of 700 km (435 miles) for the Mercedes-Benz EQS (WLTP range).
Mercedes-Benz is planning to have 9 battery factories at 7 locations on 3 continents. The company realizes and now emphasizes in its communications that localization is critical to a successful electrification strategy.
All photos courtesy Daimler/Mercedes-Benz.
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