Mercedes-Benz (MBGn.DE) expects to have factories producing exclusively electric vehicles (EVs) by the second half of the decade but will steer clear of building EV-only plants, instead keeping production lines flexible in line with market demand.
The carmaker foresees some of its production lines within factories switching fully to electric even sooner, production chief Joerg Burzer said in an interview with Reuters.
"Building a whole new battery-electric vehicle factory takes time. We have taken another approach," Burzer said.
"We will certainly have some lines producing only electric vehicles in the next few years... we also see whole factories switching to electric - that is a topic for the second half of the decade."
The premium carmaker will launch production of its EQE model, revealed last September at the IAA Mobility show, in Bremen later this year, followed by Beijing and Tuscaloosa.
Mercedes is betting on the model, an electric adaptation of the E-class with a peak range of 660 km, to boost EV unit sales as it shifts investment away from internal combustion vehicles and towards electric-only production platforms.
"With the ramp-up of the EQE in Bremen and later in Beijing, we are coming into a segment where we can deliver at far higher volumes," Burzer said.
Just 2.3% of Mercedes-Benz Cars' sales last year were battery-electric vehicles, rising to 11% including plug-in hybrids, which have both an engine and a battery.
As of 2025, it expects electric and hybrid electric cars to make up 50% of sales, with all-electric cars expected to account for most of that.
Existing models are all being built in factories also producing internal combustion engine vehicles, with batteries transported by rail from the main plant in Sindelfingen to plants in Germany and Hungary.
Down the line, battery assembly and production could be brought nearer to car plants as the design of vehicles develops to integrate the battery more closely into the car, Burzer said.