Mercedes-Benz AG has announced that in the future it will only use sustainably sourced materials for its electric fleet, part of its fulfillment of “Ambition2039,” a strategic focus to aim towards carbon neutrality.
The company is taking a comprehensive approach to the whole battery technology chain — from research and development to series production. While the company aims to advance the range of future batteries and reduce charging times, it also wants to further reduce the use of critical materials.
“In the coming generations of battery cells, the cobalt content is already being reduced to less than 10%. In the future, we want to use post-lithium-ion technologies with new material compositions to completely dispense with materials such as cobalt. The further optimization of recyclability and its implementation at Mercedes-Benz is also part of the holistic battery strategy,” said Markus Schäfer, member of the board of management of Daimler AG and Mercedes-Benz AG, responsible for Daimler Group Research and Mercedes-Benz Cars COO.
With this comprehensive approach, Mercedes-Benz AG will promote the socially acceptable and environmentally sound extraction of cobalt and lithium. The company will insist on the use of strong standards for sustainability, making the industry-wide recognized “Standard for Responsible Mining” of the “Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance” one of the key criteria for supplier decisions and supplier contracts within raw material supply chains.
The standard is in the early stage of adoption by the industry, a process Daimler seeks to accelerate. In the company’s contracts, partners will need to commit to working within their own supply chain to source exclusively from raw material suppliers who are audited in accordance with the IRMA mining standard. The supply chains will, in the future, also be regularly monitored.
“We have had the supply chains for our Mercedes-Benz electric vehicle fleet audited in line with OECD guidance, all the way back to the mine, even though we don’t source cobalt directly ourselves. Based on the insights gained, we will instruct our battery suppliers to only source cobalt and lithium from certified mining sites in the future,” said Schäfer. “With this, we even go a step further and will ensure our sourcing is from mining sites compliant with the mining standard of the Initiative for Responsible Mining Assurance. This way, in addition to child labor and a range of other social concerns, environmental risks in the mining of raw materials can also be minimized. By doing so, we are paving the way for clean raw materials, from which other participants in the market can also benefit. Going forward, we will only work with suppliers who agree to comply with these requirements.”
With regard to lithium, Mercedes-Benz is also working to ensure that the raw material is sustainably extracted and that the IRMA mining standard will be enshrined in the supply contracts.