Strategy: Three ways to the future of mobility

Sustainability is one of the core principles in the corporate strategy of Daimler AG, and also a measure of Daimler's commercial success. The commitment not only relates to the products, but also to the entire value creation process. This is why the company is committed to such aspects as the sustainability of supply chains, environmental protection, moving forward to a CO2-neutral energy supply in the plants and the responsible handling of data. A core element for Daimler is and remains the "road to zero-emission driving" and linked to this is the systematic electrification of the entire vehicle fleet. A key aspect in this in the coming years will be the gradual balancing of the powertrain portfolio in consideration of all relevant factors: reduction of CO2 emissions and thus meeting the statutory requirements, global customer requirements, but also the efficient use of resources and successful economic activities.

Mercedes-Benz is quickly picking up the pace with regard to the electrification of the automobile. On the road to emission-free driving, the developers use a host of control levers to reduce emissions on a lasting basis. By 2022, the entire Mercedes-Benz Cars product range is set to be electrified. This means that different electrified alternatives will be available in every segment – from smart to large SUVs.

Daimler currently pursues a three-pronged powertrain strategy: The company focuses on the combination of

  • high-efficiency high-tech combustion engines with increasing electrification,
  • numerous hybrid models and
  • all-electric powertrains with battery or fuel cell.

These activities are bundles under the new product and technology brand EQ: The vehicles themselves are divided into EQ Boost (electrified combustion engines), EQ Power (plug-in hybrids) and EQ (all-electric vehicles). The focus very clearly lies on gradually increasing the percentage of all-electric cars in the product range of Mercedes-Benz Cars.

Daimler expects electric models to make up already between 15 and 25 percent of Mercedes-Benz Cars total sales by 2025. The company aims to achieve this with more than ten all-electric passenger vehicles of a wide range of categories. However, the systematic expansion of its plug-in-hybrid model range also plays a crucial role: After the new generations of the plug-in hybrids of the C-, E- and S-Class were presented last year, Mercedes-Benz will expand its portfolio this year to more than ten model variants. In addition to the next-generation GLC and GLE Plug-In Hybrid, this year will for the first time see plug-in hybrid models in the compact car segment. By 2020, customers will already be able to choose from well over twenty model variants – with gradually increasing electric range. All in all, Daimler currently assumes that significantly over 40 percent of the vehicles sold in Europe could be delivered to customers in 2025 as so-called ”xEVs” (vehicles equipped with an electric traction motor and external charging capability) – depending on the framework conditions such as the development of the infrastructure, the individual customer preferences and the further development of the particular market-specific legal situation.

With this strategy, Mercedes-Benz furthermore clearly substantiates that the combustion engines are a long way from being obsolete. Their modular electrification offers a host of possibilities, not least being equipped with 48-volt technology. Mercedes-Benz is introducing belt-driven and integrated starter-generators systematically and across the board - in well over hundred model variants as early as next year.

This multi-pronged approach enables Mercedes-Benz to fulfil different requirements at different times on a market-by-market basis as the electric mobility revolution gathers pace and to offer customers vehicles that meet their individual needs. The focus here is on vehicles that are attractive for the customer and also on achieving the ambitious and legally stipulated emissions targets.

Strategy 1: Everything new on the old one - high-efficiency combustion engines with increasing electrification

The optimisation of modern combustion engines plays a crucial role in the roadmap for sustainable mobility at Mercedes-Benz, because in global terms – due to their high market share – they still weigh heavily with regard to lowering CO2 emissions even in the medium term. The economical and clean diesel engine in particular makes an important contribution to further lowering the fleet consumption and thus also to reducing CO2 emissions. From Daimler's point of view, it is still worth optimising the diesel engine as an efficient bridging technology and to offer it to customers, particularly in light of significant advancements in emissions control technology in recent years – not least due to its continued great popularity and demand from long-distance drivers and in the fleet business. Daimler AG has thus invested around three billion euros in the development and production of a completely new family of diesel engines starting in 2012.

The investment is bearing fruit: The two-litre diesel engine (OM 654q) in the B 200 d/B 220 d[9] (fuel consumption combined: 4.5-4.2 l/100 km; combined CO2 emissions: 119-112 g/km)[10] is one of the very first engines to comply with the Euro 6d standard, which does not come into effect until 1 January 2020 for new models (an extension of the 6d-TEMP standard). And the new GLE with the OM 656 six-cylinder diesel engine (GLE 350 d/400 d 4MATIC: combined fuel consumption: 7.5-7.0 l/100 km; combined CO2 emissions: 199-184 g/km)10 is the first SUV in its class to be certified according to Euro 6d including RDE Stage 2.

The diesel engines are part of the biggest engine campaign in the history of Mercedes-Benz. Internally they are known as FAME – Family of Modular Engines. Following the new four-cylinder diesel engine launched in spring 2016, three further members of the completely new modular engine family were already brought to market by the end of 2018 with an increasing number of variants: In-line six cylinder diesel and petrol engines (M 256 and OM 656) and the four-cylinder transverse diesel (OM 654q).

The new modular high-tech engine family from Mercedes-Benz is also designed with all current and future requirements in mind. The key features of the new family are a standard cylinder spacing of 90 mm and identical interfaces to the vehicle, which makes for modern, flexible production so as to be able to react to market fluctuations at short notice. The standard cylinder spacing allows the individual engine configurations to be processed on the same production line.

At the same time, pioneering technologies enjoyed their world premiere, including the integrated starter-generator (ISG), the belt-driven starter-generator, the 48-volt on-board electrical system, the electric additional compressor, but also the numerous improvements to detail such as the CONICSHAPE ”trumpet-honing” of the cylinder walls, the petrol particulate filter, the combination of aluminium housing and steel pistons as well as the further developed NANOSLIDE® cylinder wall coating, the 2500 bar diesel injection and the additional selective catalytic reduction catalyst (SCR) with ammonia synthesis catalyst (ASC) in the exhaust line.

Scaling of state-of-the-art technologies and electrification options from 12 V to 48 V to high-voltage plug-in applications makes it possible to configure the appropriate powertrain for every vehicle. The FAME engines are also thus the ideal basis for the electrification of the drivetrain as the EQ Boost and EQ Power. Its multi-track approach on the road to zero-emission mobility enables Mercedes-Benz to fulfil different requirements at different times on a market-by-market basis as the electric mobility revolution gathers pace and to offer customers vehicles that meet their individual needs.

Electrified thanks to EQ Boost

Mercedes-Benz is at the very forefront with regard to the introduction of the 48-volt on-board electrical system. As the first and currently only OEM, Mercedes-Benz has had the integrated starter generator (ISG) on the market already since 2017: with the current generation of the S‑Class. The belt-driven starter generator (BSG) completed the product range a short time later. Since then, the focus has been on the successive roll-out of the technology, eventually across the entire product range.

Integration of starter and generator (ISG): efficiency push

The integration of starter and generator (ISG) and the electrification of ancillaries not only make the car more efficient; temporarily available torque also provides additional thrust and with this an increase in performance. The in-line six-cylinder petrol engine exemplifies the electrification process and incorporates a 48-volt on-board power supply: The ISG is responsible for hybrid functions, such as boost or energy recovery, while allowing fuel savings that were previously reserved for high-voltage hybrid technology. New, intelligent charging that includes an electric auxiliary compressor as well as the EQ Boost provide very good driveability without turbo lag. The bottom line is that the new six-cylinder in-line engine offers the same performance as an eight-cylinder machine while being much more fuel-efficient.

Systematic electrification dispenses with the need for a belt drive for ancillary components at the front of the engine, which reduces its overall length. The 48-volt on-board power supply serves not only high power consumers, such as the water pump and air-conditioning compressor, but also the Integrated Starter Generator (ISG), which also supplies energy to the battery by means of highly efficient energy recovery. The slim design, together with the physical separation of intake/exhaust, creates space for a near-engine emission control system.

Belt-driven starter generator (BSG): Basis for 48 V

In addition, the four-cylinder petrol engine M 264 with belt-driven starter generator was already introduced back in 2017, for example, in the C 200 Saloon (combined fuel consumption 6.3-6.0 l/100 km, combined CO2 emissions 144-136 g/km) [11]. This is coupled with the internal combustion engine, in the same way as the generator is today. The combination of starter and generator assists the internal combustion engine when starting, accelerating and recovering energy with an output of approx. 10 kW. The system uses existing generator mounts and thus does not affect the design of the powertrain. Conversion to a 48 V system is also relatively easy to implement on existing platforms.

With an BSG or ISG it is not necessary to wait until the vehicle is stationary before switching off the engine - it can be switched off while coasting to a standstill. The conclusion: 48-volt systems enable some of the functionalities of a fully hybrid system.

Strategy 2: Plug-in hybrids with EQ Power

EQ Power offers even more electric driving: Mercedes‑Benz Cars is developing its plug-in hybrids further under this label so as to offer the best possible combination of combustion engine and electric powertrain. With a highly attractive portfolio in the high-volume segments, Mercedes-Benz is planning to offer its customers a wide range of more than ten model variants by the end of 2019 – ranging from the compact car segment to the flagship Mercedes-Benz S-Class. The aim is to be able to offer customers well over twenty model variants already in the year 2020.

Plug-in hybrids offer customers the best of both worlds: in town they run in all-electric mode, while on long journeys they benefit from the range of the combustion engine. They make the vehicle more efficient overall because they can firstly recover energy and secondly allow the combustion engine to run in favourable operating ranges. EQ Power is also a guarantee of exceptional dynamism. EQ Power+ is the name of the performance hybrid technology that Mercedes‑AMG will use on the road in future and is already used successfully in Formula 1 today.

In the C-Class and E-Class, Mercedes-Benz is the only manufacturer to combine the diesel engine with plug-in technology. Third-generation plug-in hybrids represent a key technology on the road to the locally emission-free future of the automobile: With an all-electric range of around 50 km in the C-Class, E-Class and S-Class, for example, and an electric motor output of 90 kW, Mercedes-Benz saloon and estate models can be locally emission-free in the inner city. In future, electric range will further increase thanks to bigger batteries.

And in the SUV segment so loved by customers Mercedes-Benz has gone on the offensive as well. Alongside the Mercedes-Benz GLC as a plug-in hybrid is the new generation of the Mercedes-Benz GLE just introduced on the market and ready and waiting for 2019. Customers in the compact car segment can also look forward to initial electrified variants still before the year is out.

Strategy 3: All-electric driving as well with EQ

The electric initiative for passenger cars is subsumed under the new product and technology brand EQ. Another indispensable part of this is a comprehensive and seamless service environment for the customers, covering everything from electric-specific comfort features to the infrastructure.

Battery-electric models are set to account for 15 to 25 percent of total unit sales at Mercedes-Benz Cars by 2025, depending on customer preferences and the development of the public infrastructure. The company plans to put more than ten all-electric cars on the market in all segments, from the smart to the big SUV. To this end, Daimler is investing more than ten billion euros in the new EQ product family.

The basis for the new generation of battery-electric vehicles will be a scalable architecture offering maximum flexibility – in terms of both range and performance. Another important aspect here is the integration of the electric models into the existing production lines at the respective plants to ensure maximum flexibility when responding to customer demand.

Harbingers of the all-electric models are the Mercedes-Benz EQC (combined power consumption: 22.2 kWh/100 km; combined CO2 emissions: 0 g/km, preliminary data)[12], the three smart EQ models (with 4.6 kW on-board charger: combined power consumption: 16.4-13.9 kWh/100 km; combined CO2 emissions: 0 g/km)[13] and the GLC F-CELL (combined hydrogen consumption: 0.34 kg/100 km, combined CO2 emissions: 0 g/km, combined power consumption: 13.7 kWh/100 km, preliminary data)[14] .

smart goes all electric: electric cars for the city

The smart brand is going all out when it comes to electric mobility. smart is the first car brand with its sights set on a clean-cut switch-over from combustion engines to electric powertrains. All new smart cars sold in the USA, Canada and Norway since 2017 are electric, with all other markets in Europe set to offer exclusively battery-electric smart cars from 2020 onwards. The remaining global markets should follow suit shortly afterwards.

increasingly, electric drives are also available for Mercedes-Benz vans: to satisfy as many transport requirements as possible and to enable the most diverse sectors entry into locally emission-free electric mobility, the model following the eVito - the eSprinter - is already ready and waiting. It will celebrate its market premiere in 2019. As a next step, the Citan will also be electrified.

Thinking comprehensively: from fuels to CO2-neutral plants

Saving emissions not only applies to products: The use of alternative fuels is also being examined intensively. And all Mercedes-Benz plants in Germany are slated to switch to a CO2-neutral energy supply, e.g. wind power and hydro power, by 2022.

Apart from the investment in the new EQ product portfolio, Daimler is investing more than one billion euros in a global battery production network within the global production network of Mercedes-Benz Cars. The battery production network will encompass nine factories at seven locations on three continents.

With extensive orders for battery cells amounting to 20 billion euro up until 2030, Daimler is setting another important milestone for the electrification of its future electric vehicles in the EQ product and technology brand. In this way, the company, together with its suppliers, is ensuring that today and in the future the global battery production network is always provided with the latest technologies.

With the Human Rights Respect System, Daimler has created a systematic approach to respect human rights for sustainable supply chains. Consenting to disclosing the entire supply chain is a prerequisite for a supply contract.

Sustainability: Keeping an eye on everything

Despite requiring more energy during production, the Mercedes-Benz plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles already fare far better than their conventionally powered counterparts in the life cycle assessment (LCA) when it comes to CO2 emissions. Viewing the entire life cycle of vehicles is the only way to gain a realistic idea, i.e. from production and operation time to recycling them at the end of the "vehicle's life". Thanks to their locally zero-emission operation, electric vehicles can compensate for a large part of the additional CO2 emissions they initially cause. There is still great potential in this field. The use of resources in production will continue to fall in future. Daimler AG has set itself the target of reducing the use of primary raw materials for electric drives by 40 percent by 2030. Apart from the economical use of resources, the reconditioning of components and the recycling of the raw materials used play an important role, too.

In order to gauge a vehicle's environmental compatibility, the Daimler environmental experts consider the emissions and the use of resources over a vehicle’s entire life-cycle. This is achieved by means of a life cycle assessment (LCA), which records the key environmental impacts – from extraction of raw materials to production and use to recycling. This reveals the following: the environmental balance (LCA) of electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids with regard to CO2 emissions is already extremely positive despite the higher expenditure during production. Despite requiring more energy during the production phase, the Mercedes-Benz plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles offer substantially lower CO2 emissions in the life cycle assessment (LCA) and, in the best-case scenario, account for around 45 percent of the total emissions. The additional CO2 emissions in their manufacturing are thus more than evened out.

On average, the production of a conventional car with petrol engine today accounts for around 20 percent of the CO2 emissions that this vehicle will cause during its service life of 200,000 km. In other words, the energy consumed while driving – including the extraction, production and distribution of the fuel – accounts for 80 percent of a petrol car's CO2 emissions.

The figures for diesel-engined vehicles are more favourable: their production causes similar emissions, but fuel consumption is much lower. This ultimately results in a CO2 reduction of around 13 percent during the course of the life cycle.

Huge potential: Using the plug-in hybrid correctly

A new-generation Mercedes-Benz plug-in hybrid causes 20 percent more CO2 emissions in production than a comparable car with conventional powertrain due to the technology components, especially the high-voltage battery. Consistent use of the plug-in function by regularly charging the battery from the mains and more efficient operation mean 40 percent lower CO2 emissions on the road, even with the current electricity mix. If the vehicle battery is charged solely using power from renewable energy sources, the reduction in CO2 emissions during normal operation is as high as 70 percent.

Despite the much higher energy use during production, the plug-in hybrid can therefore avoid a large share of the CO2 emissions over its entire life cycle and, in the best-case scenario, accounts for around 45 percent of the total emissions of a combustion engine. Thus, in this case more CO2 emissions during the manufacturing phase is an investment that more than works itself out while driving.

This tendency is even more true in the case of all-electric vehicles. In production, these vehicles still cause 80 percent higher CO2 emissions than vehicles with combustion engines; however, during operation with a conventional electricity mix, they cause around 65 percent less CO2 . This means that their total CO2 emissions during the course of their entire life cycle are at least 40 percent lower over the same distance.

If it is possible to operate the battery vehicle using only renewable energy, the CO2 emissions over the entire life cycle fall by 70 percent compared with combustion-engine vehicles. The figures for a fuel-cell powertrain are similar: compared with a battery vehicle, it causes lower emissions during production and slightly higher emissions during operation, with the provision of the hydrogen having a great impact on the overall effect.

Battery technology makes electric powertrains increasingly appealing

In future the EQ models will have even more of an edge when it comes to their carbon footprint as the optimisation of the battery technology and production harbours great potential for further reductions. Even today, batteries cause around 25 percent lower CO2 emissions during production than first-generation traction batteries. Experts hold out the prospect of similar reductions for the next generation: the future batteries will cause only half the CO2 emissions of the first generation and a third less than the current generation during production.

The use of primary resources, i.e. raw materials, will likewise decrease. Some materials in particular – such as cobalt, whose extraction is associated with a heavy environmental burden – will be replaced almost entirely. The batteries will have a higher energy density and offer the same range despite being smaller and lighter, or they will allow far greater ranges despite being the same size and weight. The environmental balance and appeal of electric mobility for motorists will increase over the long term – especially if the energy is obtained from renewable sources. Daimler has set itself the target of reducing the use of primary raw materials in the electric powertrain by 40 percent by 2030.

In view of the expected increase in the number of electric vehicles, this will not be enough for truly sustainable production, however. The recycling of the raw materials used such as lithium, nickel, platinum, cobalt and rare earths is an integral part of the considerations right from the moment the components are conceived. These considerations include everything right up to the monitoring of the entire supply chain from the mine to the recycling, with great importance attached to the observance of human rights in the employees' working conditions.

[9] Also in the A 200 d/A 220 d (combined fuel consumption: 4.5-4.0 l/100 km; combined CO2 emissions: 118-107 g/km)11

[10] The stated figures were determined in accordance with the prescribed measuring method. These are the "NEDC CO2 figures" according to Art. 2 No. 1 Implementing Regulation (EU) 2017/1153. The fuel consumption figures were calculated based on these figures. Further information on the vehicles on offer, including the WLTP values, can be found for each country at www.mercedes-benz.com

[11] The stated figures were determined in accordance with the prescribed measuring method. These are the NEDC CO2 figures according to Art. 2 No. 1 Implementing Regulation (EU) 2017/1153. The fuel consumption figures were calculated based on these figures. Further information on the vehicles on offer, including the WLTP values, can be found for each country at www.mercedes-benz.com

[12] Figures for power consumption and CO2 emissions are provisional and were determined by the Technical Service. The range figures are also provisional. The EC type approval and a certificate of conformity with official figures are not yet available. Differences between the stated figures and the official figures are possible.

[13] The stated figures were determined in accordance with the prescribed measuring method. These are the NEDC CO2 figures according to Art. 2 No. 1 Implementing Regulation (EU) 2017/1153. The fuel consumption figures were calculated based on these figures. Further information on the vehicles on offer, including the WLTP values, can be found for each country at www.smart.com

[14] Figures for fuel consumption, electrical consumption and CO2 emissions are provisional and were determined by the technical service for the certification process in accordance with the WLTP test method and correlated into NEDC figures. The EC type approval and a certificate of conformity with official figures are not yet available. Differences between the stated figures and the official figures are possible

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