DAIMLER has accelerated the expansion of battery production capacity in Germany in the countdown to mass production of the first all-electric Mercedes-Benz car, the EQC, in the second quarter of next year.
The company has announced it will double the workforce at its Deutsche Accumotive battery factory in Kamenz, East Germany, to 1000 employees by the end of 2018 – a year ahead of schedule – in readiness to start mass production of 80kWh lithium-ion batteries for shipment to the Mercedes large-car plant at Bremen where pre-production of the EQC has already started.
Production for the EQC begins around May, in time for its European market launch in the middle of 2019. Australian sales are expected to start in the third quarter of that year.
Another battery plant is already being built by Daimler subsidiary Accumotive at Kamenz at a cost of €500 million ($A786m) as it brings 10 all-electric vehicles to market by 2022.
The second plant – claimed by Daimler to be one of the largest and most modern such factories in the world – will quadruple the production area at Kamenz when it comes fully on stream in the second quarter of 2019, just as EQC production begins.
Apart from the two factories at Kamenz, Daimler is planning two battery plants in Stuttgart, and single plants in Sindelfingen (Germany), Beijing, Bangkok and Tuscaloosa (US) – eight in all.
The new Kamenz factory has been designed as off-grid and CO2-neutral, with solar panels and energy storage powering the facility.
Apart from batteries for all-electric vehicles such as the EQC, the Accumotive factories will build batteries for plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs), mild-hybrid cars using a 48-volt system, and stationary batteries.
Commercial vehicles will also get batteries from the factories, with electrified Vito and Sprinter vans heading for market launch next year, along with the Fuso light truck.
In all, Daimler is planning 130 electrified vehicle variants by 2022.
Formally revealed recently in Stockholm, Sweden, the EQC is expected to be launched in dual-motor, all-wheel-drive form, dubbed 400 4Matic.
The front and rear motors will have a combined output of 300kW of power and 765Nm of torque, driving the car from zero to 100km/h in 5.1 seconds and on to a limited top speed of 180km/h.
Its 80kWh battery will be capable of being charged to 80 per cent capacity in 450 minutes on a fast charger. Range is expected to be up to 450km under European NEDC test rules.
Other variants of EQC are expected to follow, including two-wheel-drive variants.
Next cab off the line in the EQ family line-up is expected to be the smaller EQA.
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