Mercedes-Benz Goes All-Electric By 2030

2022 Mercedes EQS
Mercedes-Benz EQS. Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes-Benz has become the latest automaker to announce plans to effectively abandon sales of gas and diesel-powered vehicles.

Mercedes said Thursday that it expects plug-in hybrid and battery-electric vehicles, or PHEVs and BEVs, to account for 50% of its global volume by 2025 – double the target it originally announced two years ago. By 2030, meanwhile, CEO Ola Kallenius now says Mercedes will switch entirely to BEVs – except in small markets where conditions – such as a lack of chargers – would make that difficult.

“We Have to Change”

The Swedish-born executive linked the new strategy to increasing evidence of climate change, underscored by the erratic weather causing floods, fire and drought around the globe. “We have to change,” he said, “and we will, even faster than we previously planned.”

Mercedes has already begun ramping up its line-up of PHEVs and, in particular, introduced five BEVs this past year, including the EQS, the all-electric alternative to its traditional S-Class flagship. Three more BEVs will follow in 2022, Kallenius said. The EQS is, notably, to use one of the three new skateboard-style “architectures” Mercedes will use to underpin future all-electric vehicles. These include the:

  • MB.EA for conventional vehicles;
  • AMG.EA for high-performance models; and
  • VAN.EA for light commercial vehicles.

Meanwhile, the automaker is working up new electric drive technologies. It also announced Thursday the acquisition of British start-up YASA. The company has developed a unique new motor, dubbed an axial flux, which Mercedes sees as particularly useful for future AMG performance models.

8 New Mercedes Battery Gigafactories

On the battery side, the automaker plans to set up eight new “gigafactories,” including four in Europe and one in North America. The company plans to adopt a relatively standardized battery cell design, though it will allow for different heights and chemistries reflecting such things as range, charging speed and performance.

Driving down battery costs will be a critical goal, said chief technology officer Sajid Khan. Mercedes also hopes to more than double the amount of energy individual cells can store: from a peak 550 watt-hours per liter today to 1,200. That would allow longer range, smaller packs, and potentially lower costs. Another goal is to bring charging times closer and closer to what it currently takes to fill a gas tank.

The automaker plans to show off where it expects to be in the coming years with the 2022 unveiling of the Mercedes-Benz Vision EQXX Concept. It’s the successor to the Vision EQS show car that morphed into the new EQS sedan. It will offer a range of about 1,000 miles per charge, said Chief Operating Officer Markus Schafer, using “normal-sized batteries,” thanks to improvements in its electrical architecture, aerodynamics and elsewhere. “Efficiency, he stressed, “is the new currency.”

Mercedes eventually expects to drive down the cost of battery drive technology, but it also is launching a campaign to trim fixed costs and other expenses now, part of a campaign to stay “laser focused on profitable growth,” said Kallenius. Meanwhile, Chief Financial Officer Harald Wilhelm said he believes the automaker will be able to maintain a “double-digit” profit margin even during the EV transition.

Others Go Electric by 2030-2035

Mercedes isn’t the only automaker expecting to go all-electric. General Motors has set out a similar goal – though it says it won’t get there until 2035. Bentley plans to sell only BEVs by 2030 and sibling brand Audi last month set a 2033 target for a similar shift. Parent Volkswagen is heading in the same direction but is laying out BEV plans on a brand-by-brand basis. Among German manufacturers, BMW is also transitioning to electric propulsion. It recently introduced two new BEVs, the i4 and iX. But it is following a more flexible strategy, for now, that includes both BEVs and PHEVs.

Regulators may force the hand of some manufacturers. The EU this month proposed plans to end sales of new gas and diesel models by 2035.