Cleveland, Ohio – Daimler, Yazaki, and Cooper Standard announced major initiatives Tuesday that will impact how the companies deal with automotive trends toward lightweight, autonomous, connected, electric vehicles.
Daimler – Between its commercial and consumer divisions, the maker of Mercedes cars and Sprinter vans says it will spend $22.7 billion (20 billion euros) on electric battery cells by 2030.
Placing large orders could incent battery producers to expand capacity and lower costs, so many industry watchers are monitoring battery orders to project the costs of future vehicles.
Dr. Dieter Zetsche, chairman of Daimler’s board of management and head of Mercedes-Benz cars, says, “We are systematically pushing forward with the transformation into the electric future of our company. We plan a total of 130 electrified variants at Mercedes-Benz cars by 2022. In addition, we will have electric vans, buses, and trucks."
The investments are part of Daimler’s CASE future initiative – connected, autonomous, shared, and electric (others in the auto industry use the ACES acronym, but the idea is the same).
Daimler plans to buy cells from a global network of suppliers and build those into batteries at its own plants – eight factories on three continents eventually, including one in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The first factory in Kamenz, Germany, is already in series production, and the second factory there will start series production at the beginning of 2019.
Two more factories will be built in near Stuttgart, Germany, and one each at sites in Beijing, China, and Bangkok, Thailand.
By 2022, Mercedes plans to have an electrified version of every car in its lineup – more than 130 variants and electric vehicles, hybrid, and plug-in hybrids. The company expects electrified vehicles to be as much as 25% of sales by 2025 from the low single digits this year.
Yazaki – Tier 1 automotive supplier Yazaki Corp.’s Yazaki Innovations is partnering with Silicon Valley’s Plug and Play startup accelerator, the group helped develop PayPal and Dropbox, to work with companies developing automotive technologies. Through the partnership Yazaki engineers and executives will work with technologies companies to develop new systems.
While other technologies may develop, the partnership will focus on mobility, the Internet of things (IoT), advanced manufacturing, and optimized energy solutions. Yazaki executives hope to partner with companies to develop information/communications developments, artificial intelligence, sensors, cybersecurity, and human-machine interfaces (HMI).
Shoichi Uematsu, chairman of Yazaki Innovations, said, "Our goal is to engage with early-stage companies who have a strategic alignment with our goals. Plug and Play is a pivotal component of our current strategy."
Cooper Standard – Tier 1 supplier Copper Standard is licensing its lightweight Fortex material – an elastomeric platform that is lighter and more durable that synthetic rubber – to polymer producer PolyOne Corp.
Novi, Michigan-based Copper Standard will maintain exclusive rights to use the material in automotive applications, but Avon Lake, Ohio-based PolyOne will be able to provide it to consumer electronics, medical, and industrial buyers.
Jeffrey DeBest, president pf Cooper Standard’s Advanced Technology Group, said the deal will generate royalty revenue for his company and “accelerate the advancement of Fortrex chemistry into industries outside of automotive, an important step toward our company's strategic goal of diverse market growth for our materials science innovations."
Fortex can be used to form dense extrusions, foams, films, and membranes that can be tuned to specific performance requirements.