Does Daimler have a coherent electric-vehicle strategy? Its battery supply chain is literally all over the map, and this week’s announcement that the company may close a German battery plant that it was boasting about a month ago has the EV press puzzled.
The first generation of Daimler’s smart fortwo electric drive, which is selling well in Germany, used batteries from Tesla in sunny California. In April, Daimler consolidated its ownership of Li-Tec Battery and Deutsche ACCUmotive, proudly announcing that it had secured suppliers of the two most important components (cells and battery electronics) of the battery value chain at home in Germany.
Around the same time, CEO Dieter Zetsche confirmed that Daimler won’t be an investor in Tesla’s planned Gigafactory, and just for good measure, Mercedes-Benz USA head Steve Cannon made some snarky comments about Tesla at the New York Auto Show.
Now the company says that it is thinking of shutting its Li-Tec battery-cell plant by 2016 and shifting to an outside supplier, probably the Korean firm LG Electronics, as reported by Manager Magazin.
The move is said to be part of a push to dispose of assets outside of the automotive industry – the company hopes that focusing on its core business will help it to increase operating profit.
Meanwhile, Daimler has unveiled plans to build an EV called the Denza with Chinese partner BYD, which Zetsche has called “one of the most advanced makers of batteries for electric vehicles.”
In an e-mail to Bloomberg, Daimler spokesman Hendrik Sackmann repeated comments from a year ago, saying, “We are working on the future positioning of Li-Tec. The battery business is growing rapidly, and everything is going according to plan at Li-Tec.”