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Mercedes goes all out at auto show to affirm commitment to China

Mercedes goes all out at auto show to affirm commitment to China

At the 21st Guangzhou International Automobile Exhibition, Mercedes-Benz is presenting 31 models including the locally produced all-new long-wheelbase E-Class, showcasing the company’s most advanced intelligent technologies and features. This new offering, inspired and crafted to align with the Chinese market’s preferences, demonstrates the company’s commitment to deepening its footprint in the world’s most innovative auto market.

Accelerating local R&D

The Mercedes-Benz E-Class is the perfect example of the brand’s localization journey.

«In 2005, we began our local research and development and production with the E-Class as our first model built in China. Since then, our commitment to this market and our Chinese customers has been continuously growing from there,» Hubertus Troska, member of the board of management of Mercedes-Benz Group, responsible for China, said in an exclusive interview with China Daily.

«Today, we are upping the ante, deepening our engagement and adapting to ‘China speed’, especially in the R&D field,» Troska said. Hailed as the most intelligent E-Class to date, the all-new E-Class L comes with A level 2+ system that will be capable of point-to-point automated driving on highways and city expressways.

«This is not only the first time we are introducing a new automated drive system in China — it is also the first time such a system is developed ‘in China, for China’. Our goal is to provide Chinese customers with a reliable, safe and relaxing experience through this Active Navigation Assist,» he added. «Achieving this would not have been possible without the China speed of our local R&D team.»

To accelerate the development of products tailored to the Chinese market, Mercedes-Benz plans to have around 2,000 R&D experts by the end of this year in its R&D centers in Beijing and Shanghai, including hundreds of software developers as new hires.

«In fact, we started with just 10 R&D experts for the localization of the E-Class in 2005,» Troska said. Ever since, the company’s innovation network in China has grown into the most comprehensive one outside Germany.

«China is leading in digital innovations and offers great inspirations for our global development. Thus, we want to continue investing into the future here,» Troska said. In June, Mercedes-Benz established a new digital tech company in Shanghai to accelerate innovations in intelligent connected vehicles.

As the inventor of the automobile, innovation is in the DNA of Mercedes-Benz. The company has continually revolutionized the automobile since 1886.

«Today, China is at the forefront of the electric and intelligent transformation. The current development in the Chinese automotive industry is defining the trend in this era,» Troska said. «And we believe, for the automotive industry, there is no second China. We aim to bring Chinese customers tailored products and tech at ‘China Speed’,» he added. Troska has been working and living in China since 2012. «China’s recent pledge to further open up has bolstered our confidence in this market. We will continue to invest in this country and strengthen our localization strategy together with our Chinese partners.»

Driving electrification

Strategically, Mercedes-Benz has made strides in its electric transformation. At this year’s Guangzhou auto show, the company showcased an array of luxury new energy vehicles, including both battery-electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid models.

The company has set the target that Mercedes-Benz cars will be ready to go all-electric by the end of this decade, wherever market conditions allow. «In China, our strategy is long-term oriented, while we also place strong emphasis on the current development in the NEV market,» Troska said. In the third quarter of this year, the company reported a 70 percent year-on-year surge in battery-electric vehicle deliveries in China.

«The electric transition is not happening overnight. We aim to satisfy the various demands of Chinese customers, regardless of drivetrain,» he noted. «The luxury EV segment in China is building up — and we’re excited to be part of its growth with our desirable products and tailored features for the Chinese market.»

The company is continuously enhancing its charging ecosystem in the country to offer customers a worry-free electric mobility experience. This includes the Mercedes-Benz fast-charging and high-power charging network, home intelligent wall box chargers, and interconnected public charging services, among other initiatives.

In October, the world’s first Mercedes-Benz high-power charging station opened in Chengdu. It boasts liquid-cooled high-power chargers capable of delivering up to 480 kilowatts of charging power.

Upholding sustainability

Electrification is also one core pillar in tackling climate change, a principle Mercedes-Benz upholds as part of its commitment to sustainable development. «The journey toward a carbon-neutral future calls for joint efforts, and we are cooperating with Chinese partners to achieve decarbonization and support China’s dual-carbon goals,» Troska said.

With its «Ambition 2039», Mercedes-Benz aims to make its entire fleet of new vehicles net carbon-neutral along the entire value chain and over the vehicles’ entire life cycle by 2039 — from technical development to the extraction of raw materials, to production, service life and recycling.

During the 11th Mercedes-Benz Group China Sustainability Dialogue last month, the company released the Mercedes-Benz Group China Sustainability Blue Paper 2022-23, highlighting its latest achievements in sustainable development.

One milestone highlighted was that the production joint venture, Beijing Benz Automotive, as one of the largest green electricity buyers in Beijing, has been purchasing green electricity for three consecutive years, with secured contracts to procure at least 200 million kilowatt-hours in 2023. Mercedes-Benz also signed a memorandum of understanding with a Chinese partner to jointly explore the application of low-carbon aluminum in vehicle production.

Troska said: «We are confident that by continuing to work hand-in-hand with our stakeholders in China, we can achieve our sustainability targets together.»

The all-new E-Class L, the most intelligent Mercedes-Benz E-Class ever, is an example of Mercedes-Benz’s localization in China. China Daily