Mercedes vs BMW, Who's Better at Building EVs?
Hello and welcome to your daily ChargeSmart blog! Today, we will take a look at how Mercedes and BMW are building their EVs.
Above: Mercedes' first EV, the EQC
Just imagine this, two rivals disagreeing over something. That’s bound to happen in any industry isn’t it. Especially when the two rivals in question are Mercedes and BMW, their rivalry goes back something like 100 years! The good thing is that the two German luxury automakers don’t look like they will be burying the hatchet anytime soon. Both of them will be putting out a number of EVs over the next few years but they both have different views on the future of the market, something that they both consider to be uncertain.
What's BMW up to?
They have combined the production of all their cars. What I mean by that is they manufacture EVs, plug in hybrids, petrol and diesel cars on the same assembly line. They’ve done this so they can either increase or decrease the number of EVs they produce. Looks like nothing has changed at BMW because they cited their reason for only having the i3 and i8 on sale over the past few years has been their need to wait for a period when EV demand is higher.
Above: BMW have been selling the same two EVs for the last 8 years
Apparently, the i3 taught them lessons about how EVs are more successful in some markets than others. EV sales are also increasing very quickly in some countries while the increase isn’t so drastic for others. BMW’s communications managers says that the transition period from ICE to EVs is going to be very long. Their engineering executive also supported his colleague by saying that their predictions tell them that the market is too volatile to justify spending money on an electric only manufacturing plant or a battery factory. Their worst nightmare is their plants operating below capacity, he said. The CEO also said that BMW didn’t believe it was necessary to have a specialized platform for EV production.
Currently, they have issued more contracts for battery cell production and they will also be closing their Munich plant for six weeks later this year to modify more than 1,000 robots to get them ready for production of their all electric i4 which is coming next year.
How are Mercedes doing things differently?
However, Mercedes aren’t doing anything like that. They are working on building dedicated EV platforms so they can use the same battery and chassis set-ups for a number of different models. They are also setting up their own network of battery factories.
They join the small group including Volkswagen and Toyota who are developing their own EV platforms. The next of which is their EVA2 platform which will form the underpinnings for the EQS sedan and who knows what else, I’m sure Mercedes will find a way to churn out five different models from the same platform.
Above: Mercedes have had to delay deliveries due to a battery shortage
However, Mercedes still source their batteries from LG Chem but there’s been a shortage from their side which has meant that Mercedes have had to halve their production targets for the EQC SUV and they have even postponed the US sales of the model to 2021. That’s unfortunate news as Merc’s offering was priced below both the I-Pace and the Audi E-Tron, its natural competitors.
Being German, Mercedes were not going to allow for that to happen again so they have invested over $1 billion USD into an EV specific factory in Alabama which will also include a brand new battery manufacturing unit, production is supposed to finish later this year. their new battery factory will become part of a whole network of future factories that Mercedes is working on. This new plan includes 5 battery plants across Germany and one each in Poland, China, USA and Thailand. Their aim is to keep production flexible and allow for them to satisfy the different levels of EV sales in the various countries where their all electric EQ brand is being sold.
The defining line is this, BMW are temporarily converting existing factories to make them EV ready while Mercedes are building new factories altogether. Hmm, let’s see who will win this race.