Mercedes-Benz opens Bibb County battery plant, ready for production of EQ vehicles in US; partnership with Envision AESC
Mercedes-Benz has opened its new battery plant in Bibb County, Alabama, a few months ahead of the start of production of all-electric Mercedes-EQ vehicles in the United States. (Earlier post.) The new US battery factory underscores the importance of the United States within the Mercedes-Benz global production network and the status of Alabama as an export hub for luxury SUVs in the electric era.
Mercedes-Benz will produce the EQS SUV and EQE SUV in its plant in Alabama as part of a global push to produce all-electric vehicles at seven locations on three continents. The battery factory in Bibb County will provide batteries for the new EQS SUV and the EQE SUV.
The opening of our new battery plant in Alabama is a major milestone on our way to going all-electric. With our comprehensive approach including a local cell sourcing and recycling strategy, we underline the importance of the US, where Mercedes-Benz has been successful for decades. We’re proud to create new, future-proof jobs to build all-electric SUVs ‘Made in the USA’ at a plant that is such an established part of our production family since 25 years.—Ola Källenius, Chairman of the Board of Management of Mercedes-Benz Group AG
The Mercedes-Benz plant in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, has been the production plant for large SUVs since 1997. Now the plant goes electric with the EQS SUV, which will makes its official world premiere on 19 April.
Since the 1990s, Mercedes-Benz has invested a total of more than $7 billion in Alabama. Of this amount $1 billion was invested into the battery plant, the logistics centers and to upgrade the production line to make EVs. Today, Mercedes-Benz US International (MBUSI) employs around 4,500 people and also secures an estimated additional 11,000 jobs with suppliers and service providers in the region. Around four million vehicles have left the Tuscaloosa plant since 1997, with around 260,000 SUVs rolling off the production line in 2021 alone. Roughly two-thirds of annual production is exported, making MBUSI one of the largest exporters of automobiles from the US.
The flexible Mercedes-Benz production system allows different models and drivetrains to be assembled on a single production line enabling the plant to adapt to shifts in customer demand. In addition to the GLE, GLE Coupé, GLS and Mercedes-Maybach GLS, two electric models will be added to the production line, equipped with batteries from the nearby Bibb County plant.
Production of the high-performance lithium-ion batteries for the EQS SUV and EQE SUV is CO2-neutral. High-performance lithium-ion batteries are assembled into a complete system on a production line around 300 meters long with more than 70 work stations. Using a fully digitalized production process, a variety of components are combined, including up to twelve cell modules and the EE compartment, for the intelligent integration of the power electronics. Up to 600 new jobs will be created in Bibb County.
The battery system, which will be fitted to the 7-seater EQS SUV, employs a modular design already seen in the EQS and EQE and uses cell chemistry containing nickel, cobalt and manganese in a ratio of 8:1:1. The reduction of cobalt content to around 10%, in addition to the CO2-neutral production of the batteries, enhances sustainability.
With the new plant, Bibb County becomes part of the Mercedes-Benz global battery production network which includes factories on three continents including in Kamenz, Germany; Beijing, China; Bangkok, Thailand; Jawor, Poland; and Stuttgart, Germany. The individual factories supply local vehicle production and, if necessary, are ready for export. Mercedes-Benz is investing more than €1 billion in the development of the global battery production network.
Mercedes-Benz says it will be ready to go fully electric by the end of the decade—wherever market conditions allow. To reach its target the company, together with partners, plans to build eight cell factories worldwide with a production capacity of 200 GWh by the end of the decade. Mercedes-Benz will expand its partnerships with the world’s leading battery technology companies.
Envision AESC will supply the Mercedes-Benz battery factory in Bibb County with high-performance battery modules from a new plant within the US; supplies will commence from middle of the decade.