With Range Comes Dominance? Daimler Strengthens Relationship With Chinese Battery Maker CATL

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

With practically every automaker on the planet attempting to make the electric vehicle segment work for them as well as Tesla has, they’re stepping all over each other to gain access to the components necessary to build them.

Everything from securing the raw materials for high-density cells to improving relationships with established battery suppliers will be essential for maximizing market share and embarrassing industry rivals like the little bitches they (hopefully) are. This has been especially true of German brands, who are trying to roll with increasingly demanding emission rules in Europe and China while likewise hoping to improve all-electric range and lower EV production costs.

Daimler, which already has supply deals with SK Innovation, LG Chem and Farasis, is seeking to bolster its partnership with China’s Contemporary Amperex Technology Ltd. (CATL) to address some of the challenges listed above. Mercedes-Benz wants to launch its EQS luxury electric sedan using CATL cells in 2021 — ideally with at least 435 miles of range per charge. While Daimler uses Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP) metrics that typically average lower when assessed by the U.S. regulators, the proposed target remains enviable.

“We intend to lead in battery technologies, so we are now combining our own research and development expertise with bold partners. We will integrate cutting-edge battery systems to create luxury cars with outstanding range, charging speed, safety and sustainability. Working with CATL will see us accelerate our transformation towards carbon-neutrality,” Markus Schäfer, Mercedes-Benz Cars COO and Daimler board member, explained.

“CATL will be a major supplier securing capacity for the next generations of our EQ products in the years to come.”

As per Wednesday’s announcement, the updated CATL partnership will include supplying cells and entire battery systems in exchange for Daimler sharing its own R&D. That also means MB Cars and MB Vans will get the same cell-to-pack (CTP) design Tesla now has in Asia. If executed correctly, vehicles using the system are supposed to yield higher energy densities and swifter charging times. CTP is likewise supposed to help tamp down production costs immensely. That said, these benefits are currently speculative in nature, even if they do seem to hold immense promise for EV adoption rates.

Vying to someday be carbon neutral, Daimler suggested that CATL battery production will be dependent upon renewable energy sources, noting that the company will build a new facility near Erfurt, Germany, to supply Mercedes.

CATL already intends to start production there by the end of 2020. While the pandemic has created some setbacks at the site, it’s supposed to be mostly on track to begin deliveries to European partners soon — including BMW Group, Daimler, Renault, Volkswagen Group, and Volvo.

[Image: Franz12/Shutterstock]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • Inside Looking Out Inside Looking Out on Aug 05, 2020

    " in exchange for Daimler sharing its own R&D" That's how China Inc. functions. They force you to "share" your know how and then force you into a bankruptcy.

  • Redapple Redapple on Aug 06, 2020

    I had a 2000 Explorer. New. I called it the drifting, plodding, pounding pile of sheet. I ve captained sail boats with better steering. (EX. 2005 Jeanneau 45 ') Headlight died. Had to drop the fascia to change out the bulb. My last FORD. Bye.

  • Marty The problem isn't range; it's lack of electricity in multi-unit building parking. All you need is level 1 - a standard 120v wall socket - and if you're plugged in 10 hours overnight you get 280 miles per week or more. That's enough for most folks but you can use public charging to supplement when needed. Installing conduit circuits and outlets is simple and cheap; no charge stations needed.
  • 2manyvettes Tadge was at the Corvette Corral at the Rolex 24 hour sports car race at the end of January 2023. During the Q&A after his remarks someone stood up and told him "I will never buy an electric Corvette." His response? "I will never sell you an electric Corvette." Take that Fwiw.
  • Socrates77 They're pinching pennies for the investors like always, greed has turned GM into a joke of an old corporate American greed.
  • Analoggrotto looking at this takes me right back to the year when “CD-ROM” first entered public lexicon
  • Alan My comment just went into the cloud.I do believe its up to the workers and I also see some simplistic comments against unionisation. Most of these are driven by fear and insecurity, an atypical conservative trait.The US for a so called modern and wealthy country has poor industrial relation practices with little protection for the worker, so maybe unionisation will advance the US to a genuine modern nation that looks after its workers well being, standard of living, health and education.Determining pay is measured using skill level, training level and risk associated with the job. So, you can have a low skilled job with high risk and receive a good pay, or have a job with lots of training and the pay is so-so.Another issue is viability of a business. If you have a hot dog stall and want $5 a dog and people only want to pay $4 you will go broke. This is why imported vehicles are important so people can buy more affordable appliances to drive to and from work.Setting up a union is easier than setting up work conditions and pay.
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