Mercedes-Benz has laid the symbolic foundation stone for a new competence centre for the research and development of future generations of batteries and battery cells on the grounds of its main plant in Stuttgart-Untertürkheim. The so-called ‘Mercedes-Benz eCampus’ is to be gradually put into operation from 2023.
Among other things, a factory for the small-series production of battery cells will be housed there at the start, according to the carmaker. By the “middle of the decade”, a Battery Safety Lab and various test rigs for testing and trialling new battery generations are to be built.
The company is investing an unspecified three-digit million amount in the eCampus. According to the press release, this is intended to underpin the future viability of the almost 120-year-old plant. From an engine and component plant, Untertürkheim is to be turned into a “high-tech location for drive technologies as part of the Group’s ‘Electric Only’ strategy”.
“This groundbreaking ceremony symbolises the future of our traditional location in Stuttgart-Untertürkheim,” says Ola Källenius, Chairman of the Board of Management of the Mercedes-Benz Group. “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.”
It didn’t always look like that in recent years. When the management wanted to outsource crankshaft production to the Polish plant in Jawor in 2020 (to make room for the campus), the works council objected. As a result, Markus Schäfer, the board member responsible for development, threatened to build the facility, now called ‘eCampus’ (instead of ‘Mercedes-Benz Drive Systems Campus’), at another Mercedes location. An agreement was then reached in March 2021.
The development of electric drive trains is to be bundled on the campus. With the important battery as an integral part of the e-vehicle architectures, Mercedes wants to map the development from basic research to production.
This is also well received by politicians. “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,” says Baden-Württemberg’s Minister President Winfried Kretschmann (Green Party) at the laying of the foundation stone. Stuttgart’s Mayor Frank Nopper adds: “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.”
“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,” also says Ergun Lümali, Deputy Chairman of the Supervisory Board and General Works Council of the Mercedes-Benz Group. “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.”
With reporting by Sebastian Schaal, Germany.
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