German-Canadian startup Rock Tech Lithium Inc. has broken ground for its lithium plant in Guben, Brandenburg. With this Mercedes-Benz is taking the next step towards localisation and greater vertical integration in drive technologies for its electrification goals in Europe.
The partnership with Rock Tech will enable the Stuttgart-based car maker to supply its electric vehicle (EV) battery partners with high-grade lithium hydroxide to scale up its production of fully electric vehicles.
The new converter plant represents a further milestone in the strategic partnership between Mercedes-Benz and the German-Canadian startup. The two companies signed an agreement last year for the supply of Mercedes-Benz battery partners with high-grade lithium hydroxide refined in the new Rock Tech plant covering an amount sufficient for around 150,000 fully electric vehicles.
Markus Schäfer, Member of the Board of Management of Mercedes-Benz Group AG. Chief Technology Officer, Development & Procurement, said: “For Mercedes-Benz, the shift towards electric mobility also means a change in our supply chains. Three goals are central to us: Sustainability, raw materials security and localisation of procurement.
“Today’s groundbreaking in Guben is therefore another milestone for Mercedes-Benz towards the sustainable production of state-of-the-art batteries. When it comes to our lithium supply here in Europe, Rock Tech will play a key role for Mercedes-Benz in the future.”
The strategic partnership between Mercedes-Benz and Rock Tech was announced at the German-Canadian summit at the end of August 2022 in Toronto following the signing of a memorandum of understanding between Mercedes-Benz AG and Canada. It paves the way for deeper cooperation across all stages of the automotive value chain, focusing on natural resources development.
Under the supply agreement, the two companies will cooperate to create a roadmap for achieving net carbon-neutral production of lithium hydroxide by the end of 2030. Furthermore, lithium hydroxide supplied by Rock Tech must be sourced from mining sites audited by the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance (IRMA).
Deeper Integration of German and European Value Chain
With this agreement, Mercedes-Benz is breaking new ground in the area of procurement and, with its clear localisation strategy, is deepening its vertical integration of drive technologies in Germany and Europe:
- The Mercedes-Benz battery plants in Untertuerkheim (Hedelfingen & Bruehl), Kamenz and Jawor (Poland) and the announced sites in Sindelfingen and Koelleda will play a key role in the company’s EV ramp-up.
- The battery cells will be supplied by the European factories of the Automotive Cells Company (ACC). Mercedes-Benz AG has taken an equal stake in ACC along with Stellantis and Total Energies with the goal of building a European battery champion with global ambitions. The battery cells will be manufactured at three locations in Europe: Douvrain, Kaiserslautern and Termoli.
- At the heart of its Untertuerkheim plant, Mercedes-Benz is building an eCampus as a centre of competence for research and development of new battery and battery cell generations.
- The plants in Untertuerkheim and Sebes (Romania) will produce electric drive units for new MMA and MB.EA platform models starting in 2024.
- The Mercedes-Benz plant in Berlin will produce high-performance electric motors for the future AMG.EA platform from the middle of this decade.
- Starting this year, Mercedes-Benz production at its own plants has been net carbon-neutral in large part thanks to electricity sourced exclusively from renewable sources. In addition, the company aims to increase the generation of renewable energy at its locations. Mercedes-Benz has begun planning work to build a wind farm at its test track in Papenburg, northern Germany. The expansion of photovoltaic systems will also play an important role to expand green power at Mercedes-Benz. An important target is to cover more than 70% of energy needs of the company’s production plants with renewable energies by 2030.
- Mercedes-Benz is pursuing the goal of sustainable, closed-loop recycling of battery materials and cutting resource consumption. The company recently began construction of its own battery recycling plant in Kuppenheim (Germany) – another key milestone towards raw material independence for the battery technology of Mercedes EQ vehicles at the heart of Europe.
- Mercedes-Benz has also announced plans to push ahead with the development of a high-power charging network in Europe. The first charging points operated by Mercedes in France and Germany will be connected before the end of this year. In line with the “Ambition 2039” sustainable corporate strategy, Mercedes-Benz will enable its customers to charge their vehicles with green power.