The Daimler Competence Center for Emission-free Mobility at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Mannheim is currently celebrating its 15th anniversary. Since 1994, the center has enhanced numerous alternative drive systems for commercial vehicles and cars all the way to the small-series production stage.

Plant Mannheim

The aim of the Competence Center is to bring green technologies to market at affordable prices. Among the vehicles that Daimler is currently building at the center are the Mercedes-Benz B-Class 180 NGT, the prototypes of the Mercedes-Benz E-Class 200 NGT, which will begin series production in the fourth quarter of 2010, and the Mercedes-Benz Atego BlueTec Hybrid truck.

“As a pioneer for sustainable mobility, Daimler is developing a broad range of cutting-edge drive technologies for tomorrow’s transportation needs. Competence centers such as this one are transforming the latest research and development results into products for everyday use,” says Dr. Christian Mohrdieck, Head of Fuel Cell & Battery Drive System Development, in explaining the relationship between Daimler’s global strategy and the Mannheim plant’s local activities.

As early as 1994, Daimler decided to commission a small, yet dedicated team in Mannheim to develop low-emission commercial vehicles to the series-production stage. Initial successes were not slow in coming, demonstrating once again how Daimler plays a pioneering role in the development of environmentally friendly drive systems. Among the Competence Center’s first projects were the development of an electric-drive Mercedes-Benz Sprinter for Deutsche Post DHL, a hybrid-drive Mercedes-Benz Vario large van, and the first-generation natural gas-drive Sprinter. The experiences and insights gained also helped to accelerate the introduction of green technologies in passenger car engines. “Lots of inventions that were originally series-produced in commercial vehicles can now be found in cars,” says Bernhard Heil, Vice President, Truck Product Engineering, Systems and Powertrain, about this still largely unknown technology transfer. “More and more commercial vehicle customers want to have green technologies, especially if they pay off.

However, environmental consciousness is also playing an increasingly important role. The best example of this is an innovation fleet of 50 Atego BlueTec Hybrid trucks that we will deliver to our customers for everyday use in 2010, thus demonstrating how we’re taking the lead in the industry here as well.”

Last but not least, tomorrow’s engines from the Competence Center will also help to safeguard jobs in the future. “Innovations have been going into series production in Mannheim for more than 100 years. The Competence Center is continuing this history and with it the tradition of Carl Benz. Green technologies at affordable prices will therefore translate into secure, long-term jobs at our plant,” explains Herrmann Doppler, Head of Worldwide Truck Engine Production. For Mannheim Mayor Dr. Peter Kurz, the development is a good omen for Mannheim as a business location: “As the largest employer in our city, the Mercedes-Benz plant in Mannheim is showing how innovations can help you succeed even in an era of globalization. We’re proud and happy to continue to accompany Daimler on its path toward sustainable mobility.”

The Competence Center currently has around 80 employees who work on cutting-edge production facilities, with which they manufactured about 6,000 vehicles from a variety of model series in 2009.

Source: Daimler AG