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25th anniversary of the KEM - The Competence Center for Emission-free Mobility in Mannheim

25th anniversary of the KEM - The Competence Center for Emission-free Mobility in Mannheim

Anniversary in Mannheim: for twenty-five years, the Competence Center for Emission-Free Mobility (KEM) has been the pilot factory for Daimler AG's vehicles with alternative drive systems. As a development partner within the company, KEM builds prototypes, produces small series and prepares series start-ups. This closes the gap between vehicle development and large-scale production. Mainly, KEM focuses on introducing and integrating electric and other alternative drive systems into series production. At the same time, designing production lines with cutting-edge technologies is one of KEM's core competencies. More than 50 engineers, master craftsmen and mechatronics specialists combine their extensive know-how to define new manufacturing processes for components of low-emission and emission-free vehicles such as battery packs or entire battery systems.

Stuttgart / Mannheim, December 17, 2019

  • A quarter of a century of prototypes, small-series production runs and series start-ups of low-emission and emission-free vehicles in Mannheim
  • Series production of battery packs for the eActros and eCitaro benefits from an experienced team
  • Dr. Frank Reintjes, Head of Global Powertrain, E-Mobility and Production Planning at Daimler Truck AG: "At Daimler Trucks & Buses, we are pursuing a sustainable business strategy with the aim of CO2-neutral road transportation. This can only be realised using electric commercial vehicles with a battery or fuel cell drive. We're constantly developing both of these technologies to series production: we will launch battery-powered trucks onto the market from 2021 onwards, followed by hydrogen drives by the end of the 2020s."
  • Andreas Moch, Head of the Mercedes-Benz plant in Mannheim: "It's very important for us to rapidly implement innovations in the production of new drive technologies and to introduce them into series production. And that's exactly KEM's area of expertise and competence. Especially in the current transformation of the automotive industry, this is of utmost importance."
  • Georg Klohr, Head of the Competence Center for Emission-Free Mobility: "In the past twenty-five years, we've gained a considerable amount of experience with a variety of technologies. With this knowledge, we are very well positioned for the future. Already today, each Daimler vehicle with an alternative drive system also contains a piece of KEM's expertise. And that's something we're very proud of!"

Dr. Frank Reintjes, Head of Global Powertrain, E-Mobility and Production Planning at Daimler Truck AG: "At Daimler Trucks & Buses, we are pursuing a sustainable business strategy with the aim of a CO2-neutral form of road transportation. This can only be realised using electric commercial vehicles with a battery or fuel cell drive. We're constantly developing both of these technologies to series production: We will launch battery-powered trucks onto the market from 2021 onwards, followed by hydrogen drives by the end of the 2020s. But these vehicles will only prevail on the market if they are economically viable for our customers and if the necessary charging infrastructure is available. Here, we especially need our political representatives to put suitable framework conditions in place."

The Competence Center for Emission-Free Mobility has already been involved in the series start-up of the fully electric Mercedes-Benz eCitaro city bus, which has been manufactured in Mannheim since the end of 2018. Since then, battery modules have been pre-assembled into battery systems for the eCitaro at KEM. These are mounted to the roof and also installed into the engine compartment during the city bus's assembly. Due to this expertise, series production of battery packs for the eActros scheduled from 2021 onwards will also take place at KEM.

Mercedes-Benz eCitaro with all-electric drive, exterior, anthracite metallic, 2 x electric hub motor, 2 x 125 kW, 2 x 485 Nm, LED headlamps, length/width/height: 12135/2550/3400 mm, passenger capacity: 1/80.

Mercedes-Benz eCitaro with all-electric drive, exterior, anthracite metallic, 2 x electric hub motor, 2 x 125 kW, 2 x 485 Nm, LED headlamps, length/width/height: 12135/2550/3400 mm, passenger capacity: 1/80.

As part of the future package passed in agreement with the works council in February 2019, an investment volume in the double-digit millions in the Mercedes-Benz site in Mannheim has been announced. KEM, which plays a key role in Daimler Truck AG's sustainable corporate strategy, also benefits from this. For apart from its twenty-five years of experience, KEM's new production hall with state-of-the-art equipment is a considerable advantage. In operation since 2016, the 15,000 square metre building houses the necessary equipment for vehicle-specific high-voltage applications as well as facilities for the production of hydrogen tank systems including high-pressure leak testing systems.

"It's very important for us to rapidly implement innovations in the production of new drive technologies and to introduce them into series production. And that's exactly KEM's area of expertise and competence. Especially in the current transformation of the automotive industry, this is of utmost importance," says Andreas Moch, Head of the Mercedes-Benz plant in Mannheim.

The Competence Center was founded in 1994 for emission-free commercial vehicles and began solely as an experimental workshop for new drive systems. One of its first projects was the assembly of T1-model vehicles – the predecessor of the Sprinter – with electric drives in 1996. Over the past decades, its focus of development as well as production have been diverse and wide-ranging, based on the most recent events and trends. For example, its focus was primarily on natural gas drives in the early 2000s, while it has been shifting more and more to electric drivetrains and battery technologies in the past years. Most recently, KEM has completed the assembly of eActros trucks for customer testing in a team effort with the Mercedes-Benz sites in Wörth and Stuttgart. Among other things, KEM took over the training and qualification of employees with regard to the new technology and its corresponding production processes.

As Georg Klohr, Head of the Competence Center for Emission-Free Mobility, points out regarding the increasing relevance of alternative drives in recent years: "In the past twenty-five years, we've gained a considerable amount of experience with a variety of technologies. With this knowledge, we are very well positioned for the future. Already today, each Daimler vehicle with an alternative drive system also contains a piece of KEM's expertise. And that's something we're very proud of!"

Mercedes-Benz eActros: Planned series production of batterypacks at KEM in Mannheim from 2021 onwards.

Mercedes-Benz eActros: Planned series production of batterypacks at KEM in Mannheim from 2021 onwards.

Mercedes-Benz and Mannheim are linked by a very special history. On January 29, 1886, this is where engineer Carl Benz invented the world’s first automobile with the patent number 37435 – the Benz Patent Motor Car. What is now the Mercedes-Benz Mannheim plant was founded in Luzenberg, Mannheim-Waldhof in 1908. Today, the Mannheim site employs more than 8,600 people in the production of engines and corresponding components for commercial vehicles as well as in the production of buses. The plant's foundry is one of the world's leading producers of cast-iron vehicle components. Engines are also prepared for commercial vehicles and passenger cars at the "European Center for Reconditioned Engine Production". In addition, the plant is the home of the large family of Mercedes-Benz Citaro city buses. From shell construction to final assembly, the Citaro is produced entirely in Mannheim. The Citaro's flexible production methods cover the entire drivetrain portfolio – from a low-emission combustion engine to variants with hybrid and natural gas drives right up to the fully electric eCitaro. In addition, the Competence Center for Emission-Free Mobility has been accompanying the drivetrains of the future for all vehicle segments from prototype to series production for 25 years. Training and securing new talent are equally important in Mannheim: young people have been training here for more than 100 years; a total of nearly 11,000 since vocational training was first launched.

A big occasion for the low-floor Citaro bus: today, Mercedes-Benz delivered the 55,555th urban bus of the successful model series. The anniversary bus is an all-electric, locally emission-free eCitaro which will be on the road for the Swedish Bergkvarabuss AB company in the port town of Trelleborg.

Stuttgart, 28 November 2019

  • Mercedes-Benz Citaro: a milestone in bus history
  • Exclusively equipped: the eCitaro anniversary bus
  • The breath-taking story of the Mercedes-Benz Citaro

Roman Biondi, Head of Sales at Daimler Buses: "The Citaro is a milestone in bus history. And with the arrival of the eCitaro, its development has entered a new phase. It is our answer to the need for quiet and locally emission-free urban buses. As a result, it is also making towns a much better place to live."

The anniversary bus is part of an order for ten eCitaro buses for use in the port town of Trelleborg in southern Sweden. It is the second eCitaro order which Bergkvarabuss AB has placed. The bus company based in Kalmar on southern Sweden's Baltic coast is active in all manner of bus travel, be that school buses, regular-service lines and inter-city routes. Bergkvarabuss AB operates shuttle buses to cruise ships in port towns. The company has more than 30 locations in Sweden, Denmark and Germany and has a fleet of more than 1000 buses, thus making it the biggest privately-owned bus company in all of Europe.

55.555 Mercedes-Benz Citaro

55.555 Mercedes-Benz Citaro

“The Citaro is a milestone in bus history. And with the arrival of the eCitaro, its development has entered a new phase. It is our answer to the need for quiet and locally emission-free urban buses. As a result, it is also making towns a much better place to live.”

Roman Biondi, Head of Sales at Daimler Buses
Record for Mercedes-Benz: 55,555 Citaro buses produced. And the anniversary bus is an eCitaro destined for Sweden (example image).

Record for Mercedes-Benz: 55,555 Citaro buses produced. And the anniversary bus is an eCitaro destined for Sweden (example image).

The comprehensive and exclusive equipment of the anniversary bus for Bergkvarabuss AB demonstrates both the high level of comfort and the individuality of the Mercedes-Benz eCitaro. It has an especially elegant appearance thanks to the dark-tinted double-glazed side windows and the additional low-slung side windows between the axles. A pedestrian warning bell makes passers-by aware of the presence of the quiet electric bus.

Passengers enter the eCitaro via two large doors, both of which are electrically-operated pivot-and-slide doors with folding ramps for passengers with reduced mobility. The fully climate-controlled interior is equipped to a very high standard and includes comfortable InterStar Eco seating for intercity operations, as well as ambient lighting, USB sockets for charging mobile devices and side-wall panelling in needle felt. Passengers who are hard of hearing or deaf benefit from the presence of a sound processor.

Equally exemplary is the safety equipment on-board the anniversary vehicle, with the Sideguard Assist turning aid, the Preventive Brake Assist active braking assistant and the electronic stability program ESP. Thanks to the top-of-the-range equipment with twelve battery packs and a total battery capacity of 292 kWh, the eCitaro achieves practicable ranges even in the climes of Scandinavian winters.

The 55,555th Citaro is a further highlight in the breath-taking success story of the low-floor urban bus from Mercedes-Benz. Already at the world premiere of the first generation in 1997, the unique exterior and interior design, not to mention the innovative technologies on-board, signalled the start of a transition towards passenger-friendly, economical and safe urban transport using low-floor buses.

After selling more than 32,000 units, the second generation of the Citaro arrived from 2011 and continued to build on the strengths of the original best-seller. This included it becoming the first urban bus in the world to meet the Euro VI emissions standard in 2012. Be it in environmental protection, safety technology or comfort: the Mercedes-Benz Citaro has time and time again set new benchmarks, and thus holds a pioneering role within the market – most recently with the introduction of the all-electric eCitaro. Unveiled last year, it is already successfully operating in a number of European cities.

Throughout its career, the Mercedes-Benz Citaro has received many accolades. Among these, it was voted European "Bus of the Year" on several occasions, including this year, when the low-emission, economical Citaro hybrid took home the award. Since 1998, the Citaro has also been a regular winner in the "Best Commercial Vehicle" category.