German car plants acting as competence centres for electric vehicles

Mercedes-Benz/Daimler has announced that its new generation of electric vehicles will be based on an architecture specifically developed for battery-electric models and will be scalable and applicable across the model range.
German car plants acting as competence centres for electric vehicles

Mercedes-Benz Cars is consolidating all activities in connection with electric mobility under the new product brand EQ, with the Concept EQ giving a clear outlook onto a completely new generation of vehicles.

The company’s future EQ models are to be integrated into the series production of the existing Mercedes-Benz plants on four continents. At which sites within the production network the EQ models will be produced will be decided in relation to market demand, but all three German Mercedes-Benz car plants, Bremen, Rastatt and Sindelfingen, will play a key role for electric mobility in the global production network.

The three German plants are competitive on a worldwide basis with regard to the production portfolio as well as innovation capability, and will offer the employees good prospects for the future.

Mercedes-Benz Cars plans to launch more than ten electric vehicles by 2025: in all segments from smart to large SUVs. The company assumes that until 2025 the proportion of electric vehicles in total unit sales of Mercedes-Benz will be between 15 and 25 percent, depending on the development of infrastructure and client preferences. The EQ product brand will be an elementary component of the corporate strategy for the mobility of the future

“Mercedes-Benz Cars is setting the strategic course for the production of electric vehicles within the global production network” said Markus Schäfer, Member of the Divisional Board of Management of Mercedes-Benz Cars, Production and Supply Chain Management. “In this way, we are taking advantage of the opportunities offered by electric mobility and are significantly limiting the required investment. We have invested worldwide at an early stage in flexibility and technical equipment with groundbreaking Industry 4.0 solutions. With our plants in Bremen, Rastatt and Sindelfingen as well as the smart plant in Hambach, France, we now have four competence centres for the production of electric vehicles.”

Michael Brecht, Chairman of the General Works Council of Daimler AG, added that it is a key strategic goal of the works council that the German plants participate in the company's electric strategy. The company believes the decisions regarding investments and products to be important milestones on this path. Not only the electric mobility, also the increasing digitisation will change the tasks and jobs – even whole career profiles – of Mercedes-Benz/Daimler employees.

Mercedes-Benz Cars, with the brands Mercedes-Benz and smart, has solid experience in the integration of electric vehicles into series production. Since April 2014, the B-Class Electric Drive has been produced at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Rastatt on the same line as vehicles with combustion engines. Already in 2007, smart was a pioneer of electric mobility and launched a battery-electric car on the market. This year, the fourth generation of the smart fortwo electric drive will go into production as coupé and convertible versions on the same line as the smart cars with conventional drive.

The new electric vehicles of the EQ brand are also to be integrated into normal series production as additional drive versions at the existing plants. Innovative and future-oriented production technology places new requirements on the employees, for which they are receiving intensive training. Special qualification programmes are planned, for example in the area of high-voltage technology under production conditions, and junior management staff members are being trained to work with the technologies of the future.

In order to play a leading role with future products and production technologies, Mercedes-Benz has established the TecFactory to link up its departments for design, development, procurement, sales, and production. The various departments already cooperate closely at a very early stage of product development while thorough digitisation plays a major role by creating the right conditions for highly flexible production and the increasing individualisation of cars in accordance with customers’ wishes. The Industry 4.0 and the smart factory concepts ensure that all Mercedes-Benz plants are connected with each other, allowing central access to data and process control.

Another joint initiative of production and development is the new Electric/Electronic Integration Center (EIC). The goal here is to prepare the electric/electronic architecture of Mercedes-Benz vehicles for future challenges arising from electric drive, connected vehicles, autonomous driving and flexible usage concepts. For this purpose, mixed teams will move into the EIC, which is to be located at the Sindelfingen site.

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