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Mercedes Benz is Strengthening its Alliance with China's CATL for the Development of Electric Vehicle Batteries

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【Summary】Mercedes Benz announced on Wednesday it will strengthen its alliance with Chinese battery maker Contemporary Amperex Technology Limited (CATL). The automaker is counting on CATL to deliver battery packs capable of providing its future electric vehicles with at least a 435 mile (700 km) range, as well as offering faster recharging times.

Eric Walz    Aug 06, 2020 3:00 PM PT
Mercedes Benz is Strengthening its Alliance with China's CATL for the Development of Electric Vehicle Batteries
The upcoming Mercedes Benz EQS luxury-electric sedan is expected to have a range of 435 miles with batteries supplied by CATL.

The world's automakers are adept at building vehicles, but when its comes to building electric vehicle batteries, not so much. That's why some of the world's biggest carmakers, including Volkswagen and General Motors are forming partnerships with the world's biggest battery suppliers to ensure that they have a steady supply of high-quality battery cells for their future EVs.

German automaker Daimler AG is no exception. The company announced on Wednesday it will strengthen its alliance with Chinese battery maker Contemporary Amperex Technology Limited (CATL). Mercedes Benz is counting on CATL to deliver battery packs capable of providing its future electric vehicles with at least a 435 mile (700 km) range, as well as offering faster recharging times.

"We intend to lead in battery technology, so we are now combining our own research and development expertise with bold partners," Daimler said in a statement.

Like most of the world's top automakers, Mercedes Benz is planning to ramp up production of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles. So the automaker is working to procure the batteries it will need. Wednesday's agreement with CATL includes supplying cells and entire battery systems, as well as joint research to develop more advanced battery chemistries.

In 2019, CATL's EV battery sales volume reached 40.25 GWh worldwide.

"Mercedes-Benz is a special and important partner to CATL. We are very pleased to further expand and upgrade the partnership for both parties' future development," said Dr. Robin Zeng, Founder, Chairman and CEO of CATL. "Together we will collaborate on developing and delivering reliable, competitive solutions to promote worldwide e-mobility."

The agreement covers the full range of battery technologies, including cells and complete battery modules for Mercedes-Benz passenger cars. CATL will also supply entire battery systems for Mercedes-Benz Vans, as well as cell-to-pack (CTP) battery packs, which eliminates the use of individual battery modules and instead integrates the cells directly into the battery.

CATL's cell-to-pack batteries eliminate the production step of bundling thousands of individual cells into multiple battery modules like Tesla currently does. The design also helps reduce battery weight and production costs.

CATL is also a supplier to Tesla along with Japan's Panasonic. Panasonic's jointly-developed batteries with Tesla are used for the company's U.S. built models, while CATL is its battery supplier for the China-made Model 3, which is being built at the company's new Shanghai factory. 

The partnership with Mercedes aims to significantly increase the range of its electric vehicles by developing more energy-dense battery chemistries that can charge more quickly. Daimler said. In addition, Daimler is seeking to shorten battery development cycles. 

CATL's new batteries will rely on innovative chemistries, including a significant reduction in the use of cobalt or eliminating it all together. The new batteries will use materials and chemical additives that will reduce internal stress and enable batteries to store more energy.

The upcoming Mercedes Benz fully-electric EQS luxury sedan is expected to have a WLTP range of 435 miles with double of the charging speed compared to current EV models on the market. The EQS will be equipped with CATL batteries.

In addition, CATL will use electricity from renewable energy sources, such as wind, solar and hydropower for the battery cell production for Daimler, the companies said.

As part of the Mercedes Benz sustainable mobility initiative "Ambition 2039", first announced in May 2019, the automaker and CATL have agreed to the carbon-neutral production of battery products. 

CATL said it will use electricity from renewable energy sources, such as wind, solar and hydropower for its battery production, which the company says can save over 30% of the CO2 footprint of an entire battery. 

In addition to its new partnership with Mercedes Benz, CATL is reportedly working on a battery with Tesla that can last one million miles. The breakthrough would allow the company to profitably sell its electric vehicles around the same price of internal combustion engine models.


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