Production: Worldwide electric initiative: Mercedes-Benz is putting the first EQ model into series production

Sep 4, 2018

Production of the EQC (combined power consumption: 22.2 kWh/100 km; combined CO2 emissions: 0 g/km, provisional data)1 is set to begin in 2019 at the Mercedes‑Benz plant in Bremen. The new EQC as a fully electric vehicle will be highly flexibly integrated into ongoing series production. The high Mercedes‑Benz production standards therefore ensure top quality across all vehicle models. In parallel with this, production of batteries for the EQC is coming on stream at the expanded battery plant in Kamenz (near Dresden).

Preparations for production of the EQC are in full swing at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Bremen: the electric vehicle will be produced on the same line as the C-Class Saloon and Estate, GLC and GLC Coupé. Mercedes-Benz Cars is systematically working on successful implementation of the electric initiative. Electric vehicles under the product and technology brand EQ will be integrated into the series production processes of the existing plants of Mercedes-Benz Cars. This is possible because the company made investments in maximum flexibility and hi-tech equipment at an early stage, offering trend-setting Industry 4.0 solutions.

Integrating the electric vehicles into existing production has enormous advantages: the plant is able to adapt production flexibly and efficiently, creating vehicles with different drive types in response to market demand – from combustion engines to hybrid drive and electric motors. This enables customer demand to be optimally met. And the plant makes best possible use of its capacity. Well-proven production processes and high production standards also ensure the top quality of Mercedes-Benz in new models.

[1] Figures for power consumption and CO2 emissions are provisional and were determined by the German Technical Service corporation. The range figures are also provisional. EC type approval and conformity certification with official figures are not yet available. There may be differences between the stated figures and the official figures.

EQC assembly: Innovative, flexible – and human-centred

The new EQC will be very flexibly produced on a common line with four other models. Digital solutions assist the assembly personnel. State-of-the-art data transmission and the very latest hardware solutions, grouped together under the heading of “paperless factory” , now replace paper documentation. Screens provide maximum transparency about the equipment specifications for each vehicle. Modern mobile devices such as tablets, mini PCs and smart PDAs support the employees at each step of the work process. Driverless transport systems (DTS) with shopping carts automatically and ergonomically ensure the smooth supply of parts and components to the personnel on the line.

Another example is the use of Big Data and artificial intelligence, e.g. for predictive maintenance. Through the analysis of existing production data by predictive maintenance, predictions of potential faults or due maintenance work can be made before the need actually arises.

The batteries for EQC production in Bremen are delivered from the Kamenz plant in a partially charged state, stored near the production line and flexibly delivered by driverless transport systems to the line as required.

Assembly personnel will continue to be essential in the future. With their many years of experience in the assembly of hybrid vehicles, the personnel in Bremen have a high level of expertise in high-voltage technology. This is the basis for production of fully electric vehicles.

A detailed look: The “double marriage”

When the body, suspension and powertrain come together in automobile assembly, this is referred to as the “marriage” - in the case of the EQC this is when the two electric powertrains are installed in the body. The Hamburg-based plant in the powertrain production network of Mercedes-Benz Cars supplies the rear axle and the front drive module in which the powertrains (electric motor, power electronics) including their carrying subframes are pre-installed ready for final assembly. The motor and the single-speed transmission share the same housing, which helps to simplify production and final assembly.

One major innovation is the so-called battery joining centre (second marriage). This is where the EQCs are recognised as electric models with the help of data tags attached to the body, and equipped with a battery. The body is suspended from a so-called C-carrier and deposited on a frame. Support arms raise the battery to the vehicle’s floor from below. An employee monitors the automatic bolting in place.

The extensive final inspection process includes a rain test and a simulated rough track. If required, the batteries of the EQCs are charged at the Mercedes‑Benz charging stations newly installed at the Bremen plant before the vehicles are sent on their way to the dealerships.

360° networking: High level of transparency for high-quality vehicles and satisfied customers

Mercedes-Benz Cars believes in digital networking, extending from product creation, including planning and production, right through to the customer for a thrilling, individual product experience. Right from the start, future-oriented Industry 4.0 technologies were the focus of production planning and preparation for the EQC: three-dimensional assembly of the vehicle was virtually tested in digital workshops. As on a games console with motion control, deceptively realistic-looking components are mounted in a vehicle with the help of a digital avatar. By testing with an avatar, experienced employees can assess how the relevant job might best be carried out. The digital workshops also included training on the installation of complex optional equipment.

This networking extends right through to the end user. For example, in the Mercedes me online App and online under “Digital Anticipation”, customers purchasing new vehicles can gain exclusive insights into the production of their vehicles in various German locations, and thus have a much more enjoyable wait for delivery. The vision: amendments to orders are to be possible even at short notice.

Worldwide production of electric vehicles under the EQ brand

Alongside Bremen, the Sino-German production joint venture Beijing Benz Automotive Co. Ltd. (BBAC) is preparing to start production of the EQC for the local market in China. As it does for the C-Class and the GLC, Bremen acts as the centre of competence for production of the EQC in other locations. BBAC is part of the global production network of Mercedes-Benz Cars.

Other production locations for future Mercedes-Benz EQ models are the Mercedes-Benz plants in Rastatt (Germany), Sindelfingen (Germany), Tuscaloosa (USA) and Hambach (France):

  • The Mercedes-Benz plant in Sindelfingen will be the centre of competence for battery-electric models in the executive and luxury class.
  • The Mercedes-Benz plant in Rastatt will be the competence centre for production of the compact EQ models.
  • A further, compact electric vehicle under the EQ brand will also be produced by the Hambach location in France in the future.
  • In the future, SUVs under the product and technology brand EQ will be produced by the US plant in Tuscaloosa (MBUSI, Mercedes-Benz U.S. International).
  • A compact electric vehicle will also be produced in Beijing alongside the EQC.

The global battery production network

Local battery production is a major success factor in the electric initiative of Mercedes-Benz Cars, and the key component when it comes to servicing worldwide demand for electric vehicles flexibly and efficiently. The production network for the mobility of the future is well positioned. The batteries for the EQC are produced at the Kamenz location of Deutsche Accumotive, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Daimler AG. This is where the company is investing around 500 million euros in the construction of a second battery factory. Accumotive has already been producing hybrid and plug-in hybrid batteries for cars and commercial vehicles, plus drive batteries for the current smart EQ fortwo and forfour, since 2012.

In view of the planned electric vehicle initiative under the EQ product and technology brand, Daimler AG is forging ahead with a global battery manufacturing network with locations in Europe, Asia and North America. All in all, the company will be investing over one billion euros in global battery production with two factories each in Kamenz, Saxony and Stuttgart-Untertürkheim, and one each in Peking (China), Tuscaloosa (USA) and Bangkok (Thailand). 

In the future the worldwide battery production network of Mercedes-Benz Cars will therefore consist of eight plants on three continents, all responding flexibly and efficiently to market demand. The various locations supply the local vehicle production facilities and are able to export if required.

Cross model series know-how at the centre of competence in Bremen

With a workforce of more than 12,500, the Mercedes-Benz plant in Bremen is the largest private-sector employer in the region. During their training, new entrants and young employees are already instructed in the use of future technologies. The personnel at the Bremen plant benefit from their experience in the production of hybrid models. Including the new EQC, twelve models are produced at this location: the C-Class Saloon, Estate, Coupé and Cabriolet, the E-Class Coupé and Cabriolet, the SUV GLC, the GLC Coupé, the EQC and the two roadster models, the SLC and SL. Plus the Mercedes-Benz GLC F-CELL, which was presented in preproduction form at last year’s International Motor Show.

Like all the German plants, the Bremen plant will establish a CO2-neutral energy supply by 2022. In Germany, Mercedes-Benz Cars has eight vehicle and powertrain plants (Bremen, Rastatt, Sindelfingen, Berlin, Hamburg, Kamenz, Kölleda, Stuttgart-Untertürkheim) which purchase electrical power or operate their own power stations. In the future, all outsourced power will come from demonstrably renewable sources such as wind and hydroelectric power. This corresponds to around three quarters of the total power requirement in the German plants. The remainder of the power requirement is generated in our own, highly efficient gas cogeneration power plants. The CO2 emissions generated are compensated by suitable projects.

The production network: Structured by product architectures

Mercedes-Benz Cars Operations is responsible for car production in over 30 locations worldwide which are networked on the principle of smart production. Three of them are currently being established (Mexico, Poland and Russia). Within a flexible and efficient production network with around 78,000 employees, it includes the central functions of production planning, technology factory, logistics and quality management. 

Last year Mercedes-Benz Cars produced more than 2.4 million Mercedes-Benz and smart passenger cars, thereby setting a seventh record in succession. The network is structured around the product architectures front-wheel drive (compact car) and rear-wheel drive (e.g. S-Class, E-Class and C-Class), as well as the SUV and sports car architectures. There is also a production network for the powertrain (engines, transmissions, axles, components).