The Korea Herald


[Herald Interview] Mercedes-Benz focused on enhancing EV technologies

German automaker develops new mild hybrid engine tailored to fit electric-first modular platform

By Kan Hyeong-woo

Published : Sept. 5, 2023 - 15:28

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Mercedes-Benz Chief Technology Officer Markus Schafer (Mercedes-Benz) Mercedes-Benz Chief Technology Officer Markus Schafer (Mercedes-Benz)

MUNICH -- Mercedes-Benz introduced the new CLA Concept Class for the first time in the world ahead of IAA Mobility, which is taking place in Munich from Tuesday. According to the German carmaker, the new concept vehicle has a driving range of over 750 kilometers per charge, which it claims to be the longest distance in the same segment based on the Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicle Test Procedure.

Markus Schafer, chief technology officer of Mercedes-Benz, says the company has been focusing on developing and advancing battery chemistry that can allow longer traveling distances for electric vehicles.

“We were a cell maker in the early days. In 2012 in Germany, we had our own cell-making company and since then, we’ve had our cell chemistry, which we have kept in our laboratories. So we are working in our laboratories on our own recipe,” said Schafer in an interview with a group of Korean reporters on the sidelines of the IAA on Monday.

The CTO underlined that Mercedes-Benz is also actively working with its partners to create better ways to deliver cleaner, more efficient energy sources for the transformation into EVs.

“We always cooperate with our partners like Korean partners SK and LG and Chinese partners as well. We always try to put the best ideas together and try to find the best combination between our recipes and what the partner has to offer,” he said.

Schafer did not rule out the possibility of cooperating with Samsung SDI for EV batteries in the future.

“We are interested in any innovation on top of what we have,” he said. “We heard about solid-state batteries from Samsung. We will explore new technologies with them. But we are having the same talks with LG, SK and Samsung. We compare what’s in the pipeline.”

Regarding the new Mercedes-Benz Modular Architecture, or MMA, platform developed as an electric-first platform and how it can be used to develop cars with internal combustion engines, the CTO revealed that the automaker came up with a new mild hybrid engine to fit the new platform.

“This was a task to the engineering people in my organization to create the perfect EV first,” he said. “No compromise. The best range, the lowest energy consumption, the best charging. After you finish, is there a way to put a combustion engine in this shape? And that’s exactly how we did it.”

The CTO pointed out that the company designed the new combustion engine in a way that it would fit in the space that the MMA platform would allow, adding that the latest mild hybrid engine has a very low emission and consumption.

In terms of the mini G-Class, which is going to be an all-electric sports utility vehicle model of the current G-Class as announced by Mercedes-Benz CEO Ola Kallenius on the previous night, Schafer said it will not be developed on the MMA platform. According to Mercedes-Benz, it plans to build four new vehicles -- a four-door coupe, shooting brake and two SUVs -- on the MMA platform.