just-auto.com

Daimler aims for carbon-free cars in 20 years

By Graeme Roberts | 13 May 2019

Daimler's Mercedes-Benz Cars wants to have a carbon-neutral new passenger car fleet within two decades and also aims to have plug-in hybrids or all-electric vehicles account for over half its car sales by 2030.

Launching its EQC BEV rival for Audi's e-tron, future Daimler management board chairman Ola Kaellenius, currently group R&D chief, presented 'Ambition2039' targets for the car division to invited press.

He said a a carbon-neutral new passenger car fleet in 20 years would be "a fundamental transformation of our company within less than three product cycles".

"That's not much time when you consider that fossil fuels have dominated our business since the invention of the car. Our way to sustainable mobility is innovation – in a holistic approach along the entire value chain."

Electric models making up over half of Mercedes car sales by 2030 includes all-electric cars and plug-in hybrids but the automaker would "continue to offer our customers performance and luxury".

Daimler was "working together with established partners and startups alike to bring EV performance up and costs down.

"Our approach also includes the continuous development of our mobility services, to spread the use of electric models," Kaellenius said.

"In addition to cars, we're also electrifying our vans, trucks and buses. And the modular development enables the rapid transfer of technology between our divisions. Our current focus is on battery-electric mobility. But there's also room and need to continue to work on other solutions, for example, the fuel cell or eFuels. Our GLC F-Cell is one proof point. This technology will also find use in our city buses. Today, no one knows for sure which drivetrain mix will best serve our customers' needs 20 years from now. That's why we encourage policy makers to pave the way for tech neutrality: let's fix the target, but not the means to achieve it."

Factory 56 is Daimler's blueprint for carbon-neutral production- the new addition to the Sindelfingen plant uses renewable energy and will be CO2-neutral from the start while all European plants will follow by 2022.

"Our new production site in Jawor, Poland, shows how sustainability and cost efficiency go together," said Kaellenius.

Wind power make production greener and also more economical than possible with conventional power, he added.

"Electricity from renewable sources will also be used for production of the EQC at [Bremen] and battery production in Kamenz, Saxony.

"A holistic view on carbon cutting also includes the recycling of raw materials. Mercedes cars have a potential recycling ratio of 85 percent. So, we are moving from a value chain to a value cycle.

"We will drive our supply chain to follow our ambition Driving our suppliers and partners to comply with our objective of carbon-neutrality is important to us. The starting point is in creating transparency. To this end we are working with organisations like CDP to assess the environmental impact of our supply chain. Next, we are currently conducting workshops with suppliers to identify effective CO2 reduction measures. Our goal is to establish CO2 targets as one key criteria in making supplier decisions and contracts across all major commodities."

Carbon-neutral mobility would be extended to customers and Daimler would "enable access to emission free driving".

Said Kaellenius: "Electricity in the life cycle of an electric car is – in some regions – a very significant source of CO2 depending on how it's generated.

"We want to inspire our customers to charge their green vehicles with green energy. With Mercedes Me Charge, for example, we enable drivers to conveniently charge their cars at various public charging stations in Europe, wherever possible with energy from renewable sources."

But the transformation to a sustainable mobility of the future will only succeed if the auto industry, energy suppliers and policy makers are working hand in hand. It requires massive investments and tangible action also beyond the auto sector. Carbon-neutral energy and a comprehensive infrastructure are indispensable for this system change. And we are open to a discussion on effective CO2 pricing as well as incentives for low/ no carbon technology - preferably on a global scale."