Mercedes-Benz, as part of its electric drive strategy, plans to build eight gigafactories for battery cell production around the world, one of which would be in the United States.
The battery cell factory in the United States, according to Markus Schäfer, chief operating officer and responsible for research and development for Mercedes-Benz, will supply battery cells for vehicles being produced at Mercedes’ factories in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and Ladson, South Carolina.
Dr. Jörg Burzer, a member of the board of management of Mercedes-Benz AG and head of production and supply chain management, says he expects further details about the battery cell production facility in the U.S. in the next couple of months.
In July, Mercedes had announced that it would have battery electric vehicles in all segments the company serves by 2022 and that from 2025 onwards, all newly launched vehicle architectures would be electric-only, with customers being able to choose an all-electric alternative for every model the company makes.
As such, Mercedes-Benz U.S. International, in Tuscaloosa, will begin producing Mercedes’ new EQS vehicle in 2022, with the EQE vehicle following shortly thereafter. The Tuscaloosa plant is a “very important cornerstone for our strategy,” Burzer says, adding that it will be the exclusive producer of the EQS. “One of the cornerstones is to be flexible in terms of technology and production,” he says. As such, the Tuscaloosa vehicle production plant will be able to produce both electric and conventional vehicles under the same roof, and on the same production line initially. Burzer pointed out that Mercedes-Benz U.S. International already exports the vehicles it produces to approximately 130 countries and will add the EQS to that export list.
Mercedes already has a battery production plant underway in Bibb County, so the new gigafactory will produce the battery cells, which will then be shipped to the Bibb County facility to make the entire battery for the electric vehicles.
Burzer also noted that the gigafactories might work with other automotive OEMs or suppliers to help supply their battery cells.
“These are very exciting times,” Burzer said.
Mercedes-Benz US International in Alabama produces the GLE SUV, GLE coupe and GLS model series including the Mercedes-Maybach GLS.
Mercedes-Benz Vans, in South Carolina, assembles the Sprinter vans for the U.S. and Canadian markets and reassembles the Metris vans.