Mercedes-Benz opens new battery plant in Bibb County, Alabama, to create up to 600 jobs
Topics: MERCEDES ALABAMA
The new U.S. battery factory underscores the importance of the United States within the Mercedes-Benz global production network and the status of Alabama as an export hub for luxury SUVs also in the electric era.
Mercedes-Benz will produce the EQS SUV and EQE SUV 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 the new EQS SUV and the EQE SUV.
The Mercedes-Benz plant in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, has been the production plant for large SUVs bearing the three-pointed star since 1997. Now the plant goes electric with the EQS SUV. Mercedes-Benz is providing a first glimpse of the spacious, progressive and highly digitalized interior of the EQS SUV, ahead of the vehicle’s official world premiere on April 19th.
Since the 1990s, Mercedes-Benz has invested a total of more than seven billion dollars in Alabama. Of this amount 1 billion dollars was invested into the battery plant, the logistics centers and to upgrade the production line to make EV’s.
Around four million vehicles have left the Tuscaloosa plant since 1997, with around 260,000 SUVs rolling off the production line in 2021 alone. Roughly two-thirds of annual production is exported, making MBUSI one of the largest exporters of automobiles from the US.
Production of the high-performance lithium-ion batteries for the EQS SUV and EQE SUV is CO2-neutral. High-performance lithium-ion batteries are assembled into a complete system on a production line around 984 feet long with more than 70 work stations.
Using a fully digitalized production process, a variety of components are combined, including up to twelve cell modules and the EE compartment, for the intelligent integration of the power electronics. Up to 600 new jobs will be created in Bibb County.
The battery system, which will be fitted to the EQS SUV, with the option for up to 7 seats, employs a modular design already seen in the EQS and EQE and uses highly advanced cell chemistry containing nickel, cobalt and manganese in a ratio of 8:1:1. The reduction of cobalt content to around ten percent, in addition to the CO2-neutral production of the batteries, enhances sustainability.
With the new plant, Bibb County becomes part of the Mercedes-Benz global battery production network which stretches factories on three continents including in Kamenz, Germany; Beijing, China; Bangkok, Thailand; Jawor, Poland; and Stuttgart, Germany.
The individual factories supply local vehicle production and, if necessary, are ready for export. Mercedes-Benz is investing more than one billion Euros in the development of the global battery production network.
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. Mercedes-Benz will expand its partnerships with the world’s leading battery technology companies.
In order to localize important suppliers, Mercedes-Benz is partnering with one of the world's leading battery technology companies Envision AESC. Envision AESC will supply the Mercedes-Benz battery factory in Bibb County with high-performance battery modules from a new plant within the U.S., supplies will commence from mid of the decade.
Celebrating its world premiere on April 19th, the new EQS SUV will be the first all-electric luxury SUV and the third model based on Mercedes-Benz’s dedicated electric vehicle architecture.
With a luxurious interior it is set to redefine an entire segment. Its interior combines the progressive design, refinement and comfort that customers love about the EQS sedan with the space and versatility of the popular large-SUV concept.
The look-and-feel is a sumptuous fusion of digital luxury and innovative new trim elements, while the “purpose design” of the electric-vehicle architecture delivers exceptionally generous SUV interior dimensions. Paired with the optional third-row seating and electrically adjustable second row, this offers a level of flexibility to fit the full breadth of customer needs with luxury and style.
The interior design pursues a consistent vision of digitalization, expressed most impressively by the optional MBUX Hyperscreen, first launched in the EQS sedan.
This 56-inch curved screen sweeps nearly the entire width of the vehicle cabin. The MBUX Hyperscreen includes the instrument cluster, infotainment and passenger display in a seamless design. This blends perfectly with the extreme proportions of the band above it incorporating the distinctive air-conditioning vents, and the seemingly free-floating center console below.
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 United States. ■