Mercedes-Benz today laid the symbolic foundation for a new centre of competence for the research and development of future generations of batteries and battery cells at a ceremony on the site of its main plant in Stuttgart-Untertürkheim. The so-called “Mercedes-Benz eCampus” will gradually start operations from 2023 onwards, and will initially house, among other activities, a factory for the small-scale production of battery cells. By the middle of the decade, the eCampus will be completed with a Battery Safety Lab and various test facilities for testing and trialling new battery generations. Untertürkheim is thereby consolidating its role as a high-tech location for drive technologies as part of the Group’s “Electric Only” strategy. Investments amounting to hundreds of millions in the construction and design of the eCampus underpin the future viability of this traditional, almost 120 year-old location.
The ceremony was attended by: Ola Källenius, Chairman of the Board of Management of Mercedes-Benz Group AG, Jörg Burzer, Member of the Board of Management of Mercedes-Benz Group AG, responsible for Production & Supply Chain Management, Ida Wolf, Head of Human Resources Powertrain Mercedes-Benz AG and Michael Häberle, Deputy Chairman of the General Works Council of Mercedes-Benz Group AG and Chairman of the Works Council at the Mercedes-Benz Untertürkheim site. Mercedes-Benz also welcomed Winfried Kretschmann, Minister President of Baden-Württemberg, Frank Nopper, Lord Mayor of Stuttgart, and Susanne Bay, District President of the Stuttgart administrative district, to the laying of the foundation stone.
Ola Källenius, Chairman of the Board of Management of Mercedes-Benz Group AG: “This groundbreaking ceremony symbolises the future of our traditional location in Stuttgart-Untertürkheim. A location that – like no other – stands for the success story of the automobile and Mercedes-Benz. Together with our highly trained and motivated workforce, we are shaping the transition into a new electric era. Untertürkheim will continue to be the centre of Mercedes-Benz drive expertise in the future.”
The battery is a key component of electric mobility and an integral part of the vehicle architecture. The consolidation and expansion of research and development activities at the eCampus Untertürkheim plays a key role in the Mercedes-Benz drive strategy. In future, Mercedes-Benz will cover the entire field of battery technology at this location – from (basic) research to development and battery production.
Winfried Kretschmann, Minister-President of Baden-Württemberg: “Here on the eCampus, the heart of the electric car will soon emerge: the battery and the electric powertrain. This makes this location a symbol of the transformation of the automotive industry – from combustion engines to electric drives. The eCampus is thus also a clear commitment by Mercedes-Benz to its workforce and to Baden-Württemberg as an automotive location. It´s a development we want to shape in this country: with our highly innovative companies, with our excellent research facilities and with our strategy dialogue in the automotive industry, in which we have been working together for years on the major transformations. Also to the battery – because highly specialized batteries are a promising business model for our country. If electrification becomes one of the central pillars of the transport and energy transition, then modern storage technologies will become one of the key technologies of the future.”
Dr. Frank Nopper, Mayor of Stuttgart, the state capital: “Mercedes-Benz’s investment in the traditional plant here in the Neckar Valley is a clear commitment to Stuttgart as a location and thus also a clear commitment to the future of our city as a centre of the automobile. I am delighted with the construction of the new research and development centre here in Untertürkheim. It marks an important milestone on the way to a new era.”
The Mercedes-Benz Untertürkheim plant is the largest location in the global Mercedes-Benz powertrain production network, and has several plant annexes in the Neckar valley. With its approximately 16,000 employees, the plant currently produces engines, batteries, axles, transmissions and components. The site is also home to a large part of the Group’s powertrain research and development, with around 3,000 employees and a test track for vehicle testing. In addition to battery systems, parts of the electric drive systems are already being developed and tested here today. Untertürkheim is also the location of Mercedes-Benz Group AG headquarters.
Ergun Lümali, Dep. Chairman of the Supervisory Board and Chairman of the Works Council of Mercedes-Benz Group AG: “The laying of the foundation for the eCampus and the associated investments in the expansion of battery technology are a clear commitment to the future viability of this traditional location. This is very good news for the Untertürkheim employees and also for the region. The transformation towards CO2-free drives must not lead to the reduction of added value, which is why it is all the more important that investments are also made in our powertrain plants – especially in such an important location as Untertürkheim. As stakeholders, we want to define target images for the German locations for the years 2025 and 2030 for the goals set by the Executive Board. With the eCampus, we have moved closer to this goal for Untertürkheim.”
Michael Häberle, Deputy Chairman of the General Works Council of Mercedes-Benz Group AG Chairman of the Works Council at the Mercedes-Benz Untertürkheim location: “The eCampus is not only a success for the region, but above all for and due to the Untertürkheim workforce. The best job security is to future-proof products that we develop and produce ourselves. With today’s laying of the foundation stone, we are accelerating the expansion of electromobility and further preparing the location for the future. But that alone is not enough: we must consistently continue along this path and, in addition to what has been agreed so far, put further sustainable factors in place for Untertürkheim. In order to offer our colleagues long-term security and prospects, we need to bring the entire spectrum of electromobility to our location – and that is what we are campaigning for as the Works Council.”
The location’s first battery factory in the Hedelfingen plant annex already started operations last year. Batteries for the all-electric Mercedes EQS and EQE models are currently coming off the production line there. Another battery factory in the Brühl plant annex will soon start producing batteries for the new Mercedes-Benz plug-in hybrid generation in the SUV segment. The production and assembly of electric powertrain parts (eATS) for future Mercedes-EQ vehicle models will begin at the end of 2024, and round off the plant’s electric product portfolio.
Jörg Burzer, Member of the Board of Management of Mercedes-Benz Group AG for Production and Supply Chain Management “Untertürkheim stands for drive. The close integration of research and development with production at the site has always been a successful concept, and underpins Stuttgart-Untertürkheim’s role in our global powertrain production network. Being able to build on these core areas of expertise in the transformation of Mercedes-Benz towards electromobility gives our drive strategy an additional boost. With respect to sustainability, we are also taking the next steps in Untertürkheim and are actively expanding renewable energies.”
Markus Schäfer, Member of the Board of Management of Mercedes-Benz Group AG, Chief Technology Officer, responsible for Development and Procurement: “We have a clear ambition to become a global leader in the development of electric vehicles. The components developed at the Untertürkheim location will play a key role in this. Even today, we not only develop parts of our electric drives here, but also research the cell chemistries of the future in our laboratories and test them until they reach production maturity. At the new eCampus, we will be able to consolidate our comprehensive development expertise across the entire electric drive spectrum even more effectively in the future.”
Transformation of the Untertürkheim location will lead to changes in tasks and employment profiles in the medium term. The company supports its employees with a variety of measures. The focus is particularly on targeted training programmes in the area of electromobility and digitisation. In the last two years alone, Mercedes-Benz has trained around 42,000 colleagues in all aspects of electromobility at the MB Tech Academies in Germany. At the Untertürkheim location, we are currently launching a pilot project to retrain employees from production to become data specialists. The reduction in the volume of series production of conventional drive systems will also lead to personnel adjustments at the Untertürkheim location. The top priority is to make the structural and personnel adjustments to the jobs affected as socially acceptable as possible.
Sabine Kohleisen, Member of the Board of Management of Mercedes-Benz Group AG, Human Resources and Labour Director “The continuous training of our employees is crucial for the successful transformation of Mercedes-Benz. We work on this together as a team. Transformation means change. It needs the willingness of each individual to change and to learn. The openness and motivation of the colleagues here at the Untertürkheim location to be a part of this transformation is very gratifying.”
Frank Deiß, Chairman Mercedes-Benz Drive Systems, Head of Production Powertrain Mercedes-Benz Cars and Plant Manager, Mercedes-Benz Untertürkheim “The future of our location lies in a holistic concept of innovative research and development, future-proof products for our plant and an efficient, digitised and sustainable business strategy. Untertürkheim will continue to power Mercedes-Benz in the truest sense of the word in the electric age. My thanks particularly go to my colleagues in Untertürkheim, who are helping to shape and support the transformation of the location with great flexibility and commitment.”
The new Mercedes-Benz eCampus covers an area of several football pitches (>30,000 sq. m.) and follows a holistic building concept that meets Mercedes-Benz’s sustainability standards. The conservation of resources and the reduction of energy consumption form the main pillars of this. Around 60% of the roof area is equipped with photovoltaic systems which supply the production shop with green energy as part of the Mercedes-Benz programme for the expansion of renewable energies. The entire roof area will be greened. As in Factory 56 in Sindelfingen, recycled concrete made from demolition material will be used in the façade. The use of reversible heat pumps and accumulators will ensure a sustainable heat supply and air conditioning for the production shop. Hybrid cooling towers will increase the efficiency of the water supply. Mercedes-Benz has been producing on a CO2-neutral basis in all of its own worldwide plants since this year, and has also purchased electricity in Germany exclusively from renewable sources since this year. In addition, the company aims to generally increase the generation of renewable energy at its locations.