May 16, 2020

Daimler is set to expand its footprint in China with a second R&D centre

Catherine Sturman
4 min

Daimler has announced its plans to build a new Research and Development (R&D) Technology Centre in Beijing, with a total investment of over 1.1 bil...

Daimler has announced its plans to build a new Research and Development (R&D) Technology Centre in Beijing, with a total investment of over 1.1 billion RMB (approximately US$160mn).

It marks the further expansion of the company’s footprint in its single largest market and will become its second major R&D site in China, following the Mercedes-Benz R&D Centre established in 2014. Located on the premises of the local production hub Beijing Benz Automotive Co. Ltd. (BBAC), the R&D Tech Centre will allow Daimler to accelerate the localisation of new Mercedes-Benz products in China.

Scheduled to start operations in 2020, the R&D Tech Centre’s proximity to the production hub will enable the integrated campus concept of local production with R&D, through the existing pilot plant, test track and test benches at BBAC, together and new test labs and workshops at the R&D Tech Centre for testing in new energy vehicle technology, powertrain and chassis, emissions and in-vehicle air quality.

“We remain positive for further growth opportunities in China, our largest market, and will continue with our investment here,” explained Hubertus Troska, Member of the Board of Management, Daimler AG, responsible for Greater China.

“Together with BAIC Group, we announced earlier this year to further expand with a second production plant in Beijing in preparation for future Mercedes-Benz products, including battery-electric vehicles. Now, we will further invest in the establishment of a second R&D facility, which we believe will help us to even better understand the market demands and accelerate the localisation of our products to further delight Chinese customers.”

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Prof Hans Georg Engel, Head of Mercedes-Benz Research & Development China said, “Daimler has been expanding its R&D activities here for over a decade. Playing increasingly a driving role in areas such as automated driving, connectivity and electric drive, the China team has become a key player in our global R&D network. The R&D Tech Centre marks a milestone in our local R&D efforts and will further ensure successful R&D activities with reliable, efficient and sufficient resources, enabling us to even better adapt to market-specific requirements.”

Arno Van der Merwe, President and CEO of Beijing Benz Automotive Co. Ltd., commented: “At BBAC we strive to localise ‘Made in China, for China’ Mercedes-Benz models up to Daimler’s global standards for our local customers. The proximity of the R&D Tech Centre to BBAC and its integrated facilities will enable us to utilise existing and new resources at BBAC and to apply R&D achievements to the local production process with greater efficiency.”

Covering a gross floor area of 55,000 m2, the Daimler R&D Tech Centre China will consist be capable of accommodating up to 600 employees, while the two-story test building will include a warehouse and parking area for 250 test vehicles. It will house a wide-array of cutting-edge test facilities for overall vehicle and component testing, ranging from electric drive and charging, powertrain, chassis, in-vehicle air quality, emission to noise, vibration and harshness (NVH), as well as a consolidated workshop for all functions including overall vehicle and endurance testing.

New test labs will have the capacity to carry out a wide-range of basic to complex tests, such as system calibration, durability and thermodynamics. The facilities will incorporate road simulators and climate simulation, making testing as accurate and as optimized as possible.

Customer satisfaction has long been Daimler’s primary goal and the automaker has been employing local R&D to enhance localization in China since 2005 with the first localized Mercedes-Benz E-Class. In 2009, Mercedes-Benz became the first German premium car manufacturer to open an Advanced Design Studio in China. To better learn the tastes of Chinese consumers and develop products that best fit local demand, the Mercedes-Benz Research & Development China Centre was opened in Beijing in 2014. Additional R&D facilities were established at Daimler’s local joint ventures, including a test track and test benches at Beijing Benz Automotive (BBAC), and the first R&D facility for Mercedes-Benz Vans outside Germany at Fujian Benz Automotive (FBAC) in Fuzhou.

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May 12, 2021

Ultium Cells LLC/Li-Cycle: Sustainable Battery Manufacturing

2 min
Ultium Cells LLC and Li-Cycle join forces to expand recycling in North America, recycling up to 100% of the scrap materials in battery cell manufacturing

Ultium Cells LLC - a joint venture between General Motors and LG Energy Solutions - has announced its latest collaboration with Li-Cycle. Joining forces the two have set ambitions to expand recycling in North America, recycling up to 100% of the scrap materials in battery cell manufacturing


What is Ultium Cells LLC?

Announcing their partnership in December 2019, General Motors (GM) and LG Energy Solutions established Ultium Cells LLC with a mission to “ensure excellence of Battery Cell Manufacturing through implementation of best practices from each company to contribute [to the] expansion of a Zero Emission propulsion on a global scale.”

Who is Li-Cycle?

Founded in 2016, Li-Cycle leverages innovative solutions to address emerging and urgent challenges around the world.

As the use of Lithium-ion rechargeable batteries in automotive, industrial energy storage, and consumer electronic applications rises, Li-Cycle believes that “the world needs improved technology and supply chain innovations to better recycle these batteries, while also meeting the rapidly growing demand for critical and scarce battery-grade materials.”

Why are Ultium Cells LLC and Li-Cycle join forces?

By joining forces to expand the recycling of scrap materials in battery cell manufacturing in North America, the new recycling process will allow Ultium Cells LLC to recycle cobalt, nickel, lithium, graphite, copper, manganese and aluminum.

“95% of these materials can be used in the production of new batteries or for adjacent industries,” says GM, who explains that the new hydrometallurgical process emits 30% less greenhouse gases (GHGs) than traditional processes, minimising the environmental impact. Use of this process will begin later in the year (2021).

"Our combined efforts with Ultium Cells will be instrumental in redirecting battery manufacturing scrap from landfills and returning a substantial amount of valuable battery-grade materials back into the battery supply chain. This partnership is a critical step forward in advancing our proven lithium-ion resource recovery technology as a more sustainable alternative to mining, " said Ajay Kochhar, President, CEO and co-founder of Li-Cycle.

"GM's zero-waste initiative aims to divert more than 90% of its manufacturing waste from landfills and incineration globally by 2025. Now, we're going to work closely with Ultium Cells and Li-Cycle to help the industry get even better use out of the materials,” added Ken Morris, Vice President of Electric and Autonomous Vehicles, GM.

Since 2013, GM has recycled or reused 100% of the battery packs it has received from customers, with most current GM EVs repaired with refurbished packs.

"We strive to make more with less waste and energy expended. This is a crucial step in improving the sustainability of our components and manufacturing processes,” concluded Thomas Gallagher, Chief Operating Officer, Ultium Cells LLC.

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