Mercedes-Benz opens new electric vehicle (EV) battery plant in Alabama, USA

Mercedes-Benz have announced the opening of a new battery plant for electric vehicles (EVs) in Bibb County, Alabama in the USA. The new facility is expected to create 600 jobs and is ready a few months ahead of the start of production of all-electric Mercedes-EQ vehicles in the United States.

Mercedes is preparing to go all-electric and is ramping up production of electric cars across three continents. The new US battery factory underscores the importance of the country within the Mercedes-Benz global production network and the status of Alabama as an export hub for luxury sports utility vehicles (SUVs) in the electric era.

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Mercedes-Benz will produce the EQS SUV and EQE SUV electric vehicles in its plant in Alabama, as part of a global push to produce all-electric vehicles at seven locations on three continents. The state-of-the-art battery factory in Bibb County will provide batteries for these models.

Ola Källenius, Chairman of the Board of Management of Mercedes-Benz Group AG, said: “The opening of our new battery plant in Alabama is a major milestone on our way to going all-electric.

“With our comprehensive approach including a local cell sourcing and recycling strategy, we underline the importance of the US, where Mercedes-Benz has been successful for decades.

“We’re proud to create new, future-proof jobs to build all-electric SUVs ‘Made in the USA’ at a plant that is such an established part of our production family for 25 years.”

The Mercedes-Benz plant in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, which has been producing large SUVs since 1997 will turn its skills producing electric vehicles with the EQS SUV. Mercedes has invested $1 billion into the battery plant, the logistics centres and to upgrade the production line to make the new electric vehicles.

Production of the high-performance lithium-ion batteries for the EQS SUV and EQE SUV uses highly advanced cell chemistry containing nickel, cobalt and manganese in a ratio of 8:1:1. The reduction of cobalt content to around 10 percent, in addition to the CO2-neutral production of the batteries, enhances sustainability.

Mercedes-Benz will be ready to go fully electric by the end of the decade – wherever market conditions allow. To reach its target the company, together with partners, plans to build eight cell factories worldwide with a production capacity of 200 Gigawatt hours by the end of the decade. The company will also expand its partnerships with the world’s leading battery technology companies.

In order to localise important suppliers, Mercedes is partnering leading battery technology company Envision AESC. Envision AESC will supply the factory in Bibb County with high-performance battery modules from a new plant within the US, with supplies commencing from the middle of the decade.

In line with the Mercedes-Benz strategy of expanding renewable energy production at its plants, the Bibb County site’s entire electricity needs will be met through renewable energy sources from 2024 onwards once planned solar energy projects gain approval.

In addition to circular design and value retention, Mercedes-Benz is equally focused on recycling. With a view to the future return of lithium-ion battery systems from Mercedes-EQ vehicles, the company is expanding its global battery recycling strategy.

Mercedes-Benz is starting to build its own battery recycling plant in Germany, based on hydrometallurgy. Analogue to this technology, the company plans to close the recyclable material loop with high-tech partners for battery recycling in China and the USA.

Additionally, Mercedes-Benz has entered into a five-year partnership with The Nature Conservancy worth more than $600,000 to support the Working Woodlands site in northeast Alabama.

Working Woodlands is committed to preserving, restoring and promoting sustainable forestry and nature-based approaches. This also includes the protection of wildlife.

The long-term project also contributes to the fulfilment of Mercedes-Benz’s sustainable business strategy “Ambition 2039” to have a CO2-neutral vehicle fleet by 2039.

Ian Osborne
Ian Osborne
Editor-in-Chief at ElectricDrives

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