The new EQS SUV: a commitment to sustainability

Apr 19, 2022
Stuttgart

Mercedes-Benz is setting the course for an all-electric future: By the end of the decade, Mercedes-Benz intends to be ready to go all-electric - wherever market conditions permit. With this strategic step from "Electric first" to "Electric only", Mercedes-Benz is accelerating its transformation into an emission-free and software-driven future. In many areas, Mercedes is already thinking about tomorrow today; the new EQS SUV was also designed with this in mind. Resource-saving materials such as secondary steel are also used. Mercedes-Benz looks at the entire value chain, from development and the supplier network to its own production. Mercedes-Benz AG has had its climate protection targets confirmed by the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTI) based on science. With these goals, the company supports the Paris Climate Accord.

Nine important building blocks of the transformation towards sustainable mobility.

1. Electrified product portfolio

By the end of this year, Mercedes-Benz will offer battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) in all segments in which the brand is represented. From 2025, current planning envisages that all new vehicle architectures will be exclusively electric, and customers will be able to choose an all-electric alternative to each model. The company is significantly accelerating investments in research and development. Between 2022 and 2030, a total of more than 40 billion euros has been earmarked for investments in battery-electric vehicles. The faster expansion of the range of impressive electric vehicles will lead to a faster breakthrough of electric mobility. In 2025, Mercedes-Benz plans to introduce three all-electric architectures: MB.EA, AMG.EA and VAN.EA.

2. Transparent dialogue

Mercedes-Benz has been publishing environmental product information for its vehicles in accordance with ISO guideline TR 14062 since 2005. The documentation, which is checked by external experts, is based on a comprehensive life-cycle assessment of the respective vehicle, in which many environmentally relevant details are documented. The Group's Sustainability Report has provided detailed information on this topic every year since 2006. And the Daimler Sustainability Dialogue has been bringing together sustainability experts from various fields with Daimler representatives every year since 2008. Current and future sustainability issues are discussed in workshops, progress as well as deficits and risks are evaluated, and resulting needs for action are defined. In November 2020, the Daimler Sustainability Dialogue brought together over 200 representatives from business, science, politics, NGOs, associations, trade unions and local authorities in the digital space.

3. On the balance sheet: CO2-neutral production

An important milestone is the CO2-neutral production in all of Mercedes-Benz AG's own plants worldwide as of this year. To achieve climate-neutral production, emissions generated in Mercedes-Benz vehicle production and in the energy supply of the plants are consistently reduced, or avoided altogether where possible. The purchase of green electricity is an important part of this. That is why all of Mercedes-Benz AG's own production plants worldwide exclusively procure electricity from renewable sources since 2022 – including the Mercedes-Benz plants in Alabama. Tuscaloosa and Bibb County.

Mercedes-Benz AG has announced that 70 per cent of energy requirements in production will be met by renewable energies by 2030. The Group as a whole plans to cover 100 per cent of its electricity needs and more than 70 per cent of its energy needs from renewable sources.

4. Aim: sustainable battery production

Sustainability was a central aspect of the planning of the new battery plant in Bibb County (USA), starting with the particularly energy-efficient building design. For example, hot water is generated with solar thermal energy and rainwater is collected and used to conserve valuable natural resources. Other sustainable measures include the intelligent and highly efficient control of the LED lighting and ventilation in the battery assembly area. In addition, there are air conditioning systems that work with environmentally friendly refrigerants and modern, energy-saving process technology. The forklifts are powered by hydrogen instead of diesel fuel.

In line with the Mercedes-Benz strategy to expand renewable energy generation at all plants, the entire electricity demand of the Bibb County site will be covered by renewable energy sources from 2024 onwards - once the planned solar energy projects have been approved.

In addition, Mercedes-Benz has entered into a five-year partnership with "The Nature Conservancy" worth more than $600,000 to support the "Working Woodlands" in northeast Alabama. "Working Woodlands" campaigns for the preservation, restoration and promotion of sustainable forestry as well as near-natural concepts. This also includes the protection of wildlife. The long-term project also contributes to the fulfilment of Mercedes-Benz's sustainable corporate strategy "Ambition 2039" to have a carbon-neutral vehicle fleet by 2039.

5. Decarbonisation of the supplier network

More than 40 per cent of the steel required for the body shell comes from the resource-saving secondary route. More than 100 kg of steel scrap is used as secondary raw material. In addition to a recycling rate of over 50 per cent, the circumferences have a significantly reduced carbon footprint compared to the blast furnace route. In general, the supplier network provides a considerable part of the value creation and is thus of crucial importance for the decarbonisation goals. Suppliers, who account for around 90 per cent of the annual purchasing volume, have already signed an Ambition Letter and have agreed to supply only carbon-neutral parts in the future. From 2039 at the latest, only production materials which have been produced on a CO2-neutral basis at all value creation stages will be allowed through the Mercedes-Benz plant gates. A supplier declining to sign the Ambition Letter will not be eligible for new supply contracts. In addition, there is the agreement on concrete CO2 measures with logistics suppliers. At the beginning of 2020, rail transport in Mercedes-Benz transport logistics was converted to a CO₂-neutral energy supply with Deutsche Bahn.

6. Raw materials from certified mining

Mercedes-Benz looks at the entire value chain, from development and the supplier network to its own production. Responsibly mined and processed raw materials provide the foundation for a sustainable electric vehicle fleet. Mercedes-Benz has therefore had the complex supply chains of its battery cell suppliers audited according to OECD standards. For this purpose, more than 183 companies were identified and more than 60 audits were carried out according to the guidelines of the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development). The aim is for the company to source exclusively battery cells with cobalt and lithium from certified mining in the future[1]. In addition, Mercedes-Benz is making the "Standard for Responsible Mining" of the "Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance" (IRMA) a key criterion for supplier decisions and contracts in raw material supply chains and will only work with suppliers who agree to these requirements.

7. Resource-conserving materials

EQS SUV components with a total weight of around 70 kg are made proportionately from resource-conserving materials (recycled materials and renewable raw materials). These include, for example, the cable ducts. They are made from 100 per cent post-consumer recycled material.

8. Greened electricity

Since 2021 Mercedes-Benz has ensured a subsequent offset with green electricity when customers use Mercedes me Charge[2] to charge their cars in Europe. It is ensured that for charged energy quantities corresponding amounts of green electricity are fed into the grid after the actual charging process and, in addition, incentives are created to invest in renewable energy plants. There is no basic fee for Mercedes me Charge for the first three years after the purchase of an EQS SUV.

9. Sustainable battery usage is the goal

Mercedes-Benz takes a holistic approach to the battery life cycle: re-use, remanufacture, recycle. Mercedes‑Benz offers remanufactured batteries for all electric vehicles in order to do justice to the idea of a closed-loop economy and to conserve resources. Once the high-voltage batteries of the Mercedes-EQ fleet reach the end of their life on the road, it's far from over. Mercedes-Benz Energy, based in Kamenz, is a subsidiary of Mercedes-Benz AG responsible for the development of innovative energy storage solutions. By building stationary energy storage systems, electric car batteries can be connected to the grid. The spectrum for large-scale storage applications from Mercedes-Benz Energy ranges from peak load balancing and black start (power plant start-up independent of the power grid) to uninterruptible power supply (UPS). The company's focus is in particular on applications from the 2nd life and replacement parts storage unit sector. Only after this is it time for material recycling.

10. Battery recycling

In addition to a circular economy and value retention, Mercedes-Benz is also committed to recycling. With a view to the future recycling of lithium-ion battery systems from Mercedes-EQ vehicles, the company is expanding its global strategy for battery recycling. In Germany, Mercedes-Benz begins construction of its own battery recycling plant based on hydrometallurgy. Analogous to this technology, the company plans to close the recycling loop with high-tech battery recycling partners in China and the USA.

[1] For more information, see here

[2] In order to allow use of the Mercedes me connect service "Mercedes me Charge", a separate charging contract with a selected third-party provider is required for charging payment and billing purposes. A personal Mercedes me ID and agreement to the Terms of Use for the Mercedes me connect services are required for use of the Mercedes me connect services.

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