Mercedes opens €100m battery centre

Mercedes opens €100m battery centre

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty

Mercedes-Benz has opened a competence centre for battery cells and new manufacturing processes to cut the cost of batteries by 30%.

The eCampus centre in Stuttgart-Untertürkheim is seen as significantly strengthening its development activities in battery technology as part of the €14bn Mercedes-Benz is spending on research and development and its plants this year.

An Industrial Cell Lab covers the entire product and process chain of cell development and production and enables the development of expertise for economic manufacturing processes.

The 10,000sq m eCampus covers the entire field of battery and cell technology from the development and evaluation of new cell chemistries and industrial-scale cell production to the testing and certification of complete battery units.

Mercedes-Benz is developing various forms of cell chemistry, including lithium-ion cells with high-energy anodes based on silicon composites with an energy density of 900 Wh/l and cobalt-free cathode chemistries, as well as on solid-state battery technology.

“The opening of the Mercedes-Benz eCampus marks an important step in our sustainable business strategy. It is our ambition to also play a leading technological role in electric mobility. The eCampus brings us closer to this goal. The work carried out here will help to reduce battery costs by more than 30 percent in the coming years. By locating the eCampus at the heart of our centre for research and development of drive systems, it signifies a clear commitment to a more sustainable future and to the long heritage of our Stuttgart-Untertürkheim location,” said Ola Källenius, Chairman of the Board of Management of the Mercedes-Benz Group.

The only way to scale up production effectively is through comprehensive knowledge of cell chemistry and design and this knowledge flows into series production of battery cells at partner companies.

Operations at the plant will start in two stages. Industrial production of battery cells has started operations after a construction period of around two years. State-of-the-art production facilities in the industrial lab make it possible to manufacture and test battery cells with different chemistries on an industrial scale. Several tens of thousands of cells can be produced here every year for the development of future battery generations.

The production process consists of a series of automated and manual steps. It covers all battery cell manufacturing steps from electrode production to cell assembly including electrolyte filling, forming with the first charging and discharging processes and finishing.

This complements the two existing cell laboratories: Novel cell chemistries and advanced cell designs are developed and evaluated in the Chemistry Lab. In the Flexible Cell Lab, new developments are produced and tested in automotive pouch cells.

The new building for the second stage is due to be completed by the end of this year. Among other things, this state-of-the-art test and proving centre will house a battery ramp-up factory for product and process development as well as maturity assurance for large-scale industrial production.

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Various functions of the test centre at the Nabern site will be transferred to the eCampus in Untertürkheim and state-of-the-art test benches are being built in the plant of 20,000 square metres to comprehensively test and prove the safety and service life of batteries.

“Stuttgart-Untertürkheim has been the centre of highly efficient Mercedes-Benz drive technologies for 120 years. The new eCampus and the new electric products for our plant ensure that this will continue to be the case in the future,” said Jörg Burzer, Member of the Board of Management of Mercedes-Benz Group AG, responsible for Production, Quality & Supply Chain Management.

The original building, 132/1, for the site was built back in 1907 and in its early years housed the production of camshafts and crankshafts. These were used in numerous generations of Mercedes-Benz combustion engines. Over the years, a number of different capabilities were added. These included tool calibration, the central inspection area, the production inspection area for crankshafts and connecting rods and production management for engines.

“Concentrating all aspects of battery technology and production in one place is also an important step in the transformation of the company and the site. With an innovative building concept and the extensive use of renewable energies, we are also consistently realising our sustainability aspirations in Untertürkheim,” he said

The Untertürkheim site is also home to a large part of the Group’s drivetrain research and development, with a test track for vehicle testing and the central van division and its research and development.

“High-performance batteries comprise the heart of the electrification of transport – and are the key to the successful transformation of the automotive industry. The demand for innovative and sustainable batteries will continue to rise sharply in Europe in the coming years. It is therefore of central importance that Germany and Europe build up their own capacities and, in particular, their own expertise in this key technology. This not only strengthens the industrial location and creates modern, future-proof jobs, but also increases Europe’s resilience. I am delighted that with the new eCampus, Mercedes-Benz will be focusing its research and development activities for batteries at the Untertürkheim site in future. Thereby making an important contribution to the further development of battery technology and the establishment of a strong battery ecosystem in Germany,” said Robert Habeck, German Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Action.

“At the new eCampus, we can pool and expand our comprehensive research and development expertise across the entire electric drive system even more effectively. This offers us new opportunities for sustainable innovations in cell chemistry. In Untertürkheim, we cover the entire development process, from cell chemistry to certification. High-voltage batteries are at the heart of electric mobility and their cells are the key to efficiency, energy density and resource conservation,” said Markus Schäfer, Member of the Board of Management of Mercedes-Benz Group Chief Technology Officer.


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