Mercedes-Benz has pledged to spend more than a billion euros ($1.1 billion) on global battery production. This week, it took its latest step toward its goal of an emissions-free, connected, and autonomous future when it broke ground on the Untertürkheim battery plant outside Stuttgart, Germany.
At the facility, batteries for the brand’s EQ line of electrified cars will be assembled. The battery cells themselves are purchased by Mercedes’ parent company Daimler. At the factory, however, the cells will be combined into battery blocks and married with the battery housing and control units.
This is probably good news for nearby residents of Stuttgart that the batteries aren’t actually forged there. That’s because battery cell production is a dirty and energy intensive process. The carbon-neutral Untertürkheim plant is charged with the much more pleasing task of assembling the cells into battery packs that will underpin the Mercedes-Benz EQ line of EVs.
“The laying of the foundation for the battery factory at the Mercedes-Benz Untertürkheim plant is a good sign for the sustainability of the mobility and for the economy – and thus also for the people in the region … In future, we will assemble the heart of the electric car – the battery – here ourselves,” Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars said in a prepared statement.
Untertürkheim joins four other Mercedes-Benz battery factories that span seven different locations across three continents. In addition to the Untertürkheim facility, Mercedes is planning similar plants in China, Alabama, and Thailand. A similar battery factory is already under way in Poland as well.
Mercedes won’t just leave its current workers high and dry, however, as it transitions from internal combustion vehicle production to assembling EVs. The German carmaker plans to retrain workers to work with high-voltage technology and reassign them to battery and EV plants over time.
The Untertürkheim plant is likely one of many similar battery plants that will spring up across the country and region in the years to come. Germany and the European Union have a scheme to subsidize the development of batteries in the zone. This, in order to ensure European companies remain competitive against Asian battery developers and carmakers.