Not so very long-ago Mercedes-Benz suggested clean diesel engines with greater fuel economy and range were one way to fight the buildup of greenhouse gasses in the earth’s atmosphere.
Times change and Ola Källenius, the top executive at the re-organized Mercedes-Benz Cars, said his company plans to go all electric, where market conditions permit, by the end of this decade and aims to cut its carbon footprint per passenger car by more than half by 2030 compared with 2020 levels.
The company’s far-reaching industrial turnaround also calls for 70% of the energy it needs for vehicle production to come from renewable sources by 2030, Källenius said this month during Mercedes-Benz Cars first ever Environmental, Social and Governance conference.
Källenius said the goal includes an ambitious effort to have plug-in hybrid and battery-electric vehicles account for 50% of the company’s sales by 2025 on the way toward going all-electric by 2030. Globally, the portfolio already includes six, and soon nine, all-electric models, he noted.
To date, Mercedes-Benz has already unveiled the EQA, EQB, EQC, EQS, the EQE 350+ as well as the EQV and additional models will follow for certain markets around the globe, including the EQE SUV, EQT and the EQS SUV, which just made its debut in the U.S. Monday.
Moving in mobility market
Källenius said Mercedes-Benz Cars also plans to assert its leadership in electric mobility among commercial vans, too, through the ongoing electrification of its entire model range.
“Our ambition is also to build sustainable cars in a sustainable way. We are reaching a milestone already this year at our own vehicle production locations (which) are now CO2-neutral. What is next, we will increase our share of renewables massively with the target to exceed 70% by 2030.”
“The vast majority of our suppliers have signed a letter to follow our mission to become CO2-neutral. This will be an awarding criterion — if you want to do business with us in the future, you need to have a sustainable business strategy. All these initiatives and measures taken together means that we want to reduce life-cycle emissions for the average fleet car by 50% until the year 2030.”
Charging and batteries are crucial
However, Mercedes is not focusing only on its vehicle portfolio.
The use of renewable energy for charging is another lever for helping to avoid CO2 emissions. Mercedes-Benz plans call for enabling “green charging” at around 300,000 public charging points in the Mercedes me Charge network throughout Europe which ensures a sufficient amount of electricity from renewable sources is fed into the grid.
In addition, Mercedes-Benz Cars is working on decreasing its carbon footprint through alternative battery cell chemistry and battery recycling.
By transitioning to CO2-neutral cell production, it is possible to cut emissions to produce the entire battery pack by 20 percent. Additional CO2 savings are expected to be achieved through further measures such as improving the anode and cathode production process.
Strategic partnerships have thus been formed to develop and industrialize highly advanced and competitive cell technologies. With more than 800 watt-hours per liter at cell level by mid-decade, high- silicon anodes offer great potential in respect of energy density.
At the same time, Mercedes-Benz expects to be able to use LFP batteries in its series-production vehicles. These batteries have a completely cobalt-free cathode and it is at work reducing the amount of cobalt in the existing cathodes by 10 percent.
It is also moving forward with research partners on solid-state batteries.
To maintain control of the battery lifecycle in-house, the company is starting a CO2-neutral recycling factory in Kuppenheim2, Germany, to recycle end-of-life electric vehicle batteries using a new hydrometallurgical technique which increases the recycling rate to 96 percent.