By on August 5, 2020

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]

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20 Comments on “With Range Comes Dominance? Daimler Strengthens Relationship With Chinese Battery Maker CATL...”


  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    435 miles WLTP in 2021 will be around 370 miles EPA.

    The Model S is already rated for 402 miles EPA, and surely won’t stand still.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      @SCE: Panasonic says Tesla’s cells are about to get a 20% boost in density. That might get them to 480 EPA. They’ll probably take it up to 500 if they’re that close.

    • 0 avatar
      indi500fan

      Lots of conjecture that Tesla has gamed the EPA test like VW diesels, because in real world tests like Car & Driver they come up short.

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        @indi500fan:

        I took a very quick look at some of the Car and Driver tests and they ran the cars at 75 mph. The EPA test is 60 mph or something like that. So, there’s one difference. The other test I’m looking at is the Taycan which was better at 75 mph. That’s probably because of its two-speed gearbox which might not be a big factor for the EPA test, but could be a game-changer at 75 mph. Hmm, maybe I should move the Taycan back to my potential purchase list – although it would kind of eat into the airplane budget.

        The other thing to look at is that from teardown analysis of the motors, Tesla’s Halbach array motors should be inherently more efficient than their competitors.

        I really don’t think Tesla is gaming the EPA tests. It may be that their efficiency drops off the cliff quicker as speed rises. Their aerodynamics could be improved a bit. There are already aftermarket parts available to improve the aerodynamics on the Model 3. One is just a slight extension to the rear lip spoiler. Tesla could easily make that improvement in the future right from the factory.

        For me, in researching my next EV, I grab data on the power consumption at different speeds to figure out the range at various speeds. I suspect if someone somewhat replicates the EPA test a 60 or whatever the speed is with no wind and flat terrain, they could probably match the Tesla EPA rating. In all my years of driving, I’ve never expected the EPA range/MPG to match the real-world range. It’s always been an index to me.

        I’m not even sure how you’d perform a dieselgate style cheat in an EV. I design and write firmware and software for motor drivers that are just smaller versions of EV drive systems. Any efficiency could be just put into vehicle anyway legitimately and left there. It’s not as though you’d be violating any laws by leaving it in. There are also real-world tests of the Raven that are pretty close to the EPA rating, so it can be done. If anyone here can figure out how they might be gaming the system diesel-gate style, let me know and I’ll try to replicate it if I have time. I just don’t know how you’d do it other than some sort of robot with an electric cord that would quietly jump out of the car and find a plug without being noticed.

  • avatar
    slavuta

    I wonder this. With current inquisition of CCP, how this will go? I mean, German cars with Chinese components and partnerships? And now this. What if Chinese company says, we’re opening a car battery plant in US and will hire US workers?

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      Surprised the Japanese are not in cahoots with CATL they are so far behind the leaders.

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        They might actually be ahead. Toyota lead the industry in the number of solid-state battery patents. They’re still working on their battery and figuring how to manufacture it. They have a goal of a 30-year life they’re trying to meet. The production issue is related to the fact that they need an extremely dry environment to manufacture it. So far, they can only produce small quantities. The plan as far as I know is to have the battery in mass-production in 2025.

        So, they may not be behind and could be ahead depending on if and when they get the issues resolved.

      • 0 avatar
        Varezhka

        Toyota already have a battery R&D and manufacturing joint venture with CATL, BYD, and Panasonic.

        Given their own separate research into battery chemistries on top of that, I would be surprised if they aren’t already in the leadership position.

        Now Renault Nissan Alliance, on the otherhand, have a supplier agreement with CATL but no longer have their own battery R&D from my understanding.

        • 0 avatar
          mcs

          @Varezhka: Toyota is in the lead if they can solve the manufacturing issues they are having with the battery. Moving a technology that can be produced in a lab to mass manufacturing is a difficult step. I think they can overcome the problems though. The other issue might be tougher, and that’s the durability. They seem to think they can overcome it.

          Telsa’s Maxwell tech and electrode coating technology might put them in the lead, but that isn’t in production yet either.

          I know Hyundai/Kia and other companies have investments in some of the local MIT spinoff labs near me. Something could come out of one of those labs as well.

          The technology to watch is the glass battery. That might be the gamechanger and put whoever delivers it in mass quantities in the lead.

          I’m in need of better batteries myself (Neuromorphic AI and robotics) so I really keep close tabs on the technology to know what I’ll be able to get away with in my designs. EVs aren’t the only thing dependent on better battery technology.

    • 0 avatar

      You don’t need the Chinese company to hire US workers. US company would suffice. And China steal technologies from USA anyway.

      • 0 avatar
        indi500fan

        If Tesla is truly the leader, then the Chi Coms have access to all of it via Giga Shanghai.

        • 0 avatar
          mcs

          They can get a lot through patent applications as well. There still some technology that’s trade secret with the manufacturing process. But, I’m sure they have agents right in the plant.

          I’m still figuring out how I’m going to defend my own technology from them. My son is being even more secretive with his. You have to be paranoid these days.

    • 0 avatar
      Snooder

      Isn’t that kinda what the Foxconn plant in Wisconsin was supposed to be?

  • avatar

    ” 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.

    • 0 avatar
      conundrum

      And the US and European capitalists walked right into it. Visions in the 1990s of sugar plum fairies powered by workers fed on two bowls of rice a day — hell, lookit them profits! Sure we only own half the company, but Lookit Them Profits!

      Now bereft of most consumer grade manufacturing capacity in the Western world, having offed it to China, the same twits stand up and croak: We wuz robbed! Our ideas were stolen!

      Well, what the hell did they expect? Greed drove the exodus of jobs, and who cared about those lost jobs back home? Lookit Them Profits!

      Then politicians with no memory, if they ever had any, and people with the brainpower and logic of an over-ripe banana write comments like the one I’m replying to.

      • 0 avatar

        Who cares for workers who lost their well paying jobs to China? We care. We care a lot. If we or parties we finance are elected we will push through “Universal Basic Income” legislation. So everybody will be happy. Former employees will have their basic income and sit still and we – we still have our well earned billions. And we support BLM.

  • avatar

    ” 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.

  • avatar
    redapple

    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.

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