Car company Daimler has recently announced plans to buy $23 billion worth of battery cells by 2030 as they prepare to shift gears towards mass production of hybrid and fully-electric vehicles. This makes the German automaker just one of several others making a big jump to electric vehicles in light of European regulators clamp down on toxic emissions from diesel engines. As such, the company plans to release 130 electric and hybrid models by 2022; which is in addition to manufacturing electric trucks, vans, and buses.
They will also spend another $1.1 billion to build eight factories in China, Thailand, Germany, and the United States. The first of these factories will be located in Kamenz, Germany, and production for which is already underway with the second factory set to begin production towards the start of next year. Germany will be home to two more factories, and two factories will be constructed in Beijing, Bangkok and Tuscaloosa, Alabama, each.
The car company—who makes Mercedes Benz vehicles—has not said which suppliers will be awarded contracts to make batteries. That said, though, the company already has deals for batteries supply from SK Innovation and LG Chem (of Korea) and Contemporary Amerpex Technology (of China).
Daimler did go on to say, however, that they are looking to expand their battery cell research competency and definitely working to develop the next generation of batteries, mostly to find a way to cut dependence on cobalt (among other earth minerals). Not only is cobalt a rare and costly material but it is sourced mostly from the war-torn region of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Also, a CNN investigation from earlier this year found that children were still working in the DRC cobalt mines.
All in all, though, the electric Mercedes-Benz EQC (all-electric crossover) is currently set for a launch in 2019. These vehicles, Daimler says, will use batteries that contain only 20 percent cobalt, with another 20 percent manganese, and the other 60 percent nickel. In addition, Daimler also said they have some engineers working on different ratios—90 percent nickel with 5/5 manganese and cobalt, for one—as well as some solid state batteries that do not require any cobalt at all.