Daimler, the parent group of Mercedes-Benz, has today outlined its plans to invest more than €40 billion (£34.2billion) between 2022 and 2030 to develop battery electric vehicles and be ready to become an all-electric car maker by the end of the decade.
Bosses at the German luxury carmaker said on Thursday it would – with its partners – build eight battery-making gigafactories across the world to ramp up its EV production, and that from 2025 all new vehicle platforms would only make electric cars.
And while Mercedes has refused to put a hard deadline on the date to end sales of petrol and diesel cars, it did make commitments to launch four new electric-vehicle platforms in less than four years’ time, introduce a simple new system for public charging payments this year and revealed it is developing EVs with driving ranges exceeding 1,000 kilometres (621 miles).
Mercedes’ electric drive: Parent company Daimler on Thursday outlined how the German brand will be ‘ready’ to become an all-electric car maker by 2030 – though refused to put a firm date on when it will cease selling petrol and diesel vehicles
“We really want to go for it… and be dominantly, if not all, electric by the end of the decade,’ Daimler chief executive Ola Källenius told Reuters, adding that spending on traditional combustion-engine technology would be ‘close to zero’ by 2025.
‘We need to move the debate away from when you build the last combustion engine because it’s not relevant,’ Källenius said in the interview.
‘The question is how quickly can you scale up to being close to 100 per cent electric and that’s what we’re focusing on.’
Daimler’s announcement comes just over a week after the European Union proposed an effective ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2035 – which will be five years behind the deadline to end sales of fossil fuel models in the UK.
The German brand today said that as of 2025, it expects electric and hybrid electric cars to make up 50 per cent of sales, earlier than its previous forecast that this would happen by 2030.
It added that the acceleration in public uptake of EVs wouldn’t necessarily be due to the local restrictions but the fact that battery-powered cars would be superior to those with internal combustion engines.
Daimler said that by 2026 it expects investment in combustion engines will have fallen 80 per cent when compared to 2019 levels, though refused to put an end date for combustion-engined vehicle production – saying it was difficult to know when customer demand for petrol and diesel cars will end.
‘A transformation of our workforce will involve tough decisions, said Sabine Kohleisen, Mercedes-Benz’s head of human resources.
‘Overall we must and will reduce our personal costs.’
Källenius added: ‘The EV shift is picking up speed – especially in the luxury segment, where Mercedes-Benz belongs. The tipping point is getting closer and we will be ready as markets switch to electric-only by the end of this decade.
‘This step marks a profound reallocation of capital.
‘By managing this faster transformation while safeguarding our profitability targets, we will ensure the enduring success of Mercedes-Benz. Thanks to our highly qualified and motivated workforce, I am convinced that we will be successful in this exciting new era.’
Ola Källenius, chairman of the board at Daimler AG, said on Thursday that four new EV platforms will be launched in 2024 and 2025 that will underpin small and medium-to-large passenger cars, AMG performance models and its battery-powered vans
Four new platforms to underpin Mercedes’ blossoming EV range of vehicles
The first all-new electric vehicle architecture – MMA EV – has been promised for 2024 and will be used exclusively for smaller vehicles.
A year later, it has promised three additional platforms that will be used for the rest of its vehicle range.
The first is the MB.EA platform – this will underpin medium and large passenger vehicles, such as SUVs.
The second is AMG.EA, which will be used only for its high-performance models.
Daimler announced during today’s press conference that it has acquired British firm YASA Limited to help develop high-performance electric motors specifically for its AMG.EA models to ensure they offer a superior driving experience.
Finally, a VAN.EA platform will be used for electric light commercial vehicles.
On top of the four new electric cars promised this year – the EQA, EQB, EQS and EQV – Mercedes has also committed to launching its new EQE saloon, EQE SUV and EQS SUV in 2022.
It means that, by the end of next year, Mercedes will have eight full-EVs in the passenger car segment, including the existing EQC.
Bosses also confirmed today that there will be both an AMG and Maybach version of its luxury EQS saloon, which is already available to order.
By the end of next year, Mercedes will already have eight full-EVs in the passenger car segment, including the existing EQC. By 2025, the range will look very different and ultimately be EV dominated
Mercedes-Benz to launch hassle-free public charging payment system this year
While many of the promises put forward by Mercedes bosses today are looking ahead towards the end of the decade, there was one notable announcement that will bring improvements to EV ownership this year.
Its ‘Plug & Charge’ system is said to allow customers to plug-in, charge and unplug without extra steps needed for authentication and payment processing.
It will be debuted later this year when in the EQS and mean drivers will be billed directly by Mercedes for any charging sessions using public devices.
It also added that it was looking to boost its existing global charging networks of 530,000 AC and DC devices.
Mercedes owners will have access to Shell’s Recharge network, consisting of over 30.000 charge points by 2025 in Europe, China, and North America – including over 10.000 high-power chargers globally.
Mercedes-Benz is also planning to launch several premium-charging sites in Europe, which will offer a bespoke charging experience with ‘top-notch’ facilities.
Mercedes says its new ‘Plug & Charge’ system will allow customers to plug-in, charge and unplug without extra steps needed for authentication and payment processing from this year, with the tech debuted in the new EQS (pictured)
Mercedes-Benz is also planning to launch several premium-charging sites in Europe, which will offer a bespoke charging experience with ‘top-notch’ facilities
Mercedes to have eight new gigafactories worldwide
To supply the expanding range of EVs on offer, Mercedes says it will build eight new battery-making factories worldwide, with the support of existing and a new European partner.
One of the gigafactories will be in the US and four committed for Europe. The total production capacity will be 200GWh.
Daimler said it would announce new European partners for its battery production plans soon.
This expansion, Mercedes said, comes in addition to existing plans for ‘nine plants dedicated to building battery systems’.
The EU has been pushing hard to build out battery capacity to counter China’s dominance of battery production and the UK already has two confirmed sites – the Britishvolt sire in Blyth, Northumberland, and Nissan’s recently announced gigafactory that will be linked to the Sunderland car plant.
Rival German manufacturer, Volkswagen AG, plans to build half a dozen battery cell plants in Europe.
Daimler said that as part of its electrification strategy it would build a battery recycling plant in Kuppenheim, Germany, which would start operations in 2023.
Bosses also previewed the future of the type of cells these gigafactories will be making, claiming the next-generation batteries will be ‘highly standardised’ and used across ‘more than 90 per cent of all Mercedes-Benz cars and vans”.
These will feature increased levels of energy density, which in turn should result in ‘unprecedented’ single-charge driving ranges and shorter charge times than what’s currently on offer.
Mercedes also said it is ramping up its efforts to develop solid-state battery technology, which provide an ever greater leap in performance – and safety – than the next-generation lithium-ion cells.
Mercedes bosses teased the arrival of the new EQXX concept car, which is being co-developed by the Mercedes-AMG F1 team and will provide a fully-battery range of over 1,000km (621miles) despite using existing lithium-ion batteries
Vision EQXX concept car due in 2022 with 1,000km range
It was expected that Mercedes would today take the covers off its new EQXX concept car, though announced it won’t be showcased until next year.
What it has shown – though heavily disguised – is a futuristic, streamlined shape that will be mimicked by electric Mercedes models that follow between now and 2030.
It will be so aerodynamic, the German car maker says, that it will be able to cover more than 1,000 kilometres – or 621 miles – under real-world condition on a full charge, despite using existing battery technology.
Daimler chiefs also confirmed the car was being part-developed by the Mercedes-AMG F1 team.
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