How Mercedes-Benz turbocharges electric cars

“Fifty billion euros. This is the sum we will invest in the electrification of these models and the ecosystem of electric mobility over the next few years. We are ready to offer a full 100% electric range by 2030,” explained Reiner Hoeps, President of Mercedes-Benz France. A true paradigm shift for the car manufacturer, which has built its entire history on the reliability and power of its internal combustion engines. If the 2020 Covid crisis has accelerated environmental awareness, however, this change is strategic for Mercedes-Benz.

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In fact, the European Union has decided to ban thermal cars from its territory from 2035. However, this year will mark the 150th anniversary of the invention of the car by a certain Carl Benz. The ability to announce that it will be able to meet the government’s requirements five years before this deadline is therefore proof for Mercedes of its head start over all its competitors in terms of technology.

In order to continue to stand out against its historical rivals (BMW, Rolls-Royce, Ferrari, etc.), the star-studded brand must also anticipate the arrival of new entrants into the luxury electric car market. “The situation is such that now we don’t know who our competitors will be in ten or fifteen years,” continues Reiner Hoeps. So we must hope and invest to maintain our leadership. We see Asian manufacturers coming up with products that are constantly evolving. However, you should never underestimate a competitor. »

In fact, in 1989, no one would have thought that by creating Lexus, the Japanese Toyota would surpass reference brands such as Jaguar or Cadillac and would now flirt with 800,000 cars per year. Ditto for American Tesla, which went from zero cars in 2010 to more than 936,000 vehicles sold in 2021.

Maybach, this call is the ultimate Mercedes finish level, as evidenced by its revisited EQS. © Mercedes-Benz AG

To ensure that it maintains its position as the world’s leading luxury brand*, Mercedes-Benz is developing a green strategy around three pillars: carbon neutrality, batteries and, of course, the vehicle. From this year, the manufacturer aims to produce vehicles with no CO2 emissions. In fact, even before the war in Ukraine, it chose green energy suppliers to supply its German factories.

Thus, the brand turns its neck to the blame that is usually applied to electric cars: if its use clearly does not reject any gas, their production would be a disaster in terms of carbon dioxide emissions. Same strategy for charging stations: before 2030, 70% of the 300,000 public charging points compatible with the Mercedes Me card available in Europe will be powered by electricity from renewable sources.


Electric car: a Mercedes travels 1,000 kilometers without recharging

The essential elements of an electric vehicle, the battery packs are produced directly by the manufacturer and not by a subcontractor. In fact, to ensure perfect traceability of the necessary rare earths and relative price stability, to avoid the risk of shortages and to control quality, the German group has programmed 20 billion investments in eight assembly areas for batteries spread across the planet. “At a time when ethical concerns are just as important as environmental issues, a company like ours must be at the forefront of showing the way”, continues Reiner Hoeps, who is aware that it is impossible for a luxury business to thrive on hardship.

For the assembly of its vehicles, the German group has developed a new strategic plan. From now on, the production distribution of the models will be done according to the world’s demand. While the German sites remain the main producers, specific locations are reserved for local markets.


At this airport, Mercedes can park without a driver

Since the United States is a large consumer of large SUVs, the Tuscaloosa (Alabama) plant was affected by the production of the EQE and EQS models when the Beijing plant was planned for sedans and more compact cars. Purpose: to implement short circuits in the production of auto parts and thus avoid more expensive freight.

As for the cars themselves, the electric Mercedes is distinguished from the thermal by the label of the house: EQ. So, the traditional ABC range… becomes EQA, EQB or EQC when switching to the electric fairy. “The difference between a thermal Mercedes and an electric one? Always more comfort and driving pleasure, especially thanks to the silence and the engine torque that is immediately available. The luxury offered by an electric Mercedes is to be able to drive like of a thermal, without having to worry about autonomy because the car organizes the recharging according to the trip,” Reiner Hoeps sums up. The on-board computer is actually connected to the network of charging stations.

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Another big change: the luxury car of the 21st century will come from the circular economy. For example, of the 2,480 kilograms that the new and ultra-luxurious EQS weighs, 80 kilograms are made from recycled and renewable raw materials. And that’s just the beginning: by 2030, the brand aims to use 40% recycled materials in every new car…

But if recycling is important to protect the environment, its cost only increases the final price of cars. Another problem: due to the scarcity of raw materials, the price will definitely increase. Launched in March 2021 at a call price of 44,900 euros before the bonus of 7,000 euros, the compact EQA is shown at 55,750 euros at the end of 2022. In eighteen months, this model suffered 10,850 euros of inflation and mechanically saw the its ec. bonus falling to 2,000 euros (the size varies according to the models).

Result: the final cost for the customer increased by 15,850 euros. “It’s a new technology that needs adjustments… Reiner Hoeps replied. However, buying a Mercedes is also a guarantee of strong residual value after two or three years. The days when cars lost 15% of their value when leaving the dealership are a thing of the past; renewal every three years maybe too. »

Mercedes-Benz, precursor to its 100% electric GT, the SLS AMG Electric Drive

Mercedes-Benz AG

Offered only in an electric blue livery, this 100% electric version of the famous gullwing door coupé was presented at the Paris Motor Show in 2012. In this 416,500 euro racing car, four electric motors are placed under each wheels for a total output of 740 horsepower and 1,000 newton meters of torque. Result: a speed limit of 250 kilometers per hour. It is also the maximum distance possible with its 60 kilowatts of batteries; modest now but very good for the time.

“This model is a quasi-prototype. But it reflects Mercedes’ expertise in sporty, powerful and fun-to-drive cars. In the future, we will obviously have something else, because motorsport is part of our DNA. It’s true, driving an electric GT at 250 kilometers per hour reduces autonomy, but with a thermal GT, consumption also reduces it,” Reiner Hoeps concludes with a smile.

The main stages of change

  • 2023. Entering operation of the battery recycling plant in Kuppenheim, near the French border.
  • 2025. 50% plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles, i.e. around 1 million vehicles worldwide.
  • 2030. A 100% electric range for Europe and for markets where charging infrastructure is available.
  • 2035. Entry into force of the ban on the sale of new thermal cars in the European Union.

*Rank of American brand strategy and design consultancy Interbrand 2021.

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