As a leader in technology today, Daimler Trucks & Buses is also striving to design logistics and passenger transport of the future - with electrified solutions that bring maximum benefits to customers and the environment. What role the suppliers can play in the solution equation – that is the question that the editorial staff of Daimler Supplier Magazine has investigated.
Stuttgart-Untertürkheim. Location of Daimler Group Headquarters, Truck Product Engineering and Global Procurement Trucks and Buses. This is where experts are working on projects such as the future of electric buses and trucks. One of them is Stefan Heinze. The first question is directed toward the Head of Global Procurement of E-Mobility Group Daimler Trucks. Why electrified trucks and buses at all?
“We need electrified trucks and buses”
“Daimler Trucks and Busses has always built what our commercial vehicle customers need.” A truck and a bus, continues Heinze, has to provide the customer with the maximum use for the respective transport task. Optimal transport efficiency. That is the top customer priority. But the customer also has to adjust to the market demands. And a lot is changing there, says Heinze: “As the leading truck manufacturer, Daimler Trucks has always been committed to achieving the best possible CO₂ efficiency. But there are very clearly defined CO₂ limits that are required by the legislature in Europe, the USA and also in Asia.” According to Heinze, these clear specifications prompted a push toward e-mobility – and with that, he gives the answer to the E question: “We need electrified trucks and buses to comply with the requirements in the future.”
“E” recognized early
Daimler Trucks & Buses recognized the E trend early on and offers a wide selection of products already today. For example, the eActros, the eCascadia, the Mercedes-Benz eCitaro, the first fully power-adjustable school bus “Jouley” by Thomas Built Buses or the Fuso eCanter. Heinze: “Even today, we already have production-ready solutions in many markets to respond to the CO₂ objectives of the future.“ Now the objective is to turn the local E solution into a global E solution.
A global E platform
Efficiencies arise from optimal pooling. Heinze: “Now we are drawing from the experiences of our current products and want to create a global electric mobility generation. The use of a global engine platform in the product range of Daimler Trucks and Buses for the latest combustion engine generation was a very positive experience.”
The goal can only be reached with partners
Another experience from the past: Goals can only be achieved together. Heinze is aware of the important role of the suppliers: “We need to partner with the best of the supply industry to lead the pack with our electrified trucks and buses.” According to Heinze, it thereby does not matter where in the world the partner is located.
The supplier has to have the right mindset, he continues. In response to a follow-up question, he elaborates: There is enormous stress when it comes to electric mobility. The timing is different compared to classic development processes: “Demanding CO2 target deadlines requires prompt solutions.”
For example, this also translates to a significant acceleration of the development process. This always has to include a modular approach: “Suppliers should be able to offer modular solutions so that they can be integrated efficiently in the global vehicle products of the manufacturers.” In addition, the partner must be prepared to take risks: “Things happen rapidly in electric mobility. This requires taking spirited steps forward and taking risks from time to time.”
Heinze also mentions that Chinese suppliers are offering a very promising potential for driving electric mobility for trucks and buses forward. He also gives a tip to talk to the Daimler procurement experts in China.
Excellent E knowledge in China
“In China, the suppliers have already addressed the electric mobility with great intensity.” Already in the second sentence, Jörg Reiting is on topic. Reiting is the Head of Procurement Trucks at Daimler Greater China and knows exactly what the local situation is. “In China, electrified trucks and buses are already widespread. You don’t even notice it during normal city traffic here anymore when you are riding an E-bus from A to B.”
The technical solutions came almost entirely from Chinese suppliers. Electric motors, electric steering gear, thermal management for electric vehicles? Reiting nods: all products that were developed by Chinese suppliers fit for series production. “There is an excellent series knowledge”, confirms Reiting.
Knowledge on which Daimler Trucks & Buses wants to build. Reiting: “There are electric components for commercial vehicles that China has developed and that are fit for series production today. A high-voltage wiring harness from a Chinese supplier could be used in a variety of E-vehicles from our range of products at a reasonable cost.” A cooperation with such Chinese suppliers would obviously offer a huge advantage in terms of time to reach market maturity.
An advantage Daimlers wants to utilize. Reiting continues that very close relationships have already been established in China and an E-Mobility Supplier Day had recently been held in Peking. The goal: the selection of components and parts for the next generations of electric vehicles. “Here, we exclusively chose 30 potential suppliers from the E-Mobility segment from throughout China”, says Reiting. Qualified suppliers, among them experts for battery packs, thermal systems, e-motors or even complete charging stations, were invited to Peking for an exciting exchange with Daimler specialists and top management. “The response and motivation of the suppliers to attend in this event was unbelievably positive”, according to Reiting. The exchange yielded a very good picture of the relevant players and their market expertise. We now have to build on this experience.
“We have to build partnerships with the best”
Another conversation. With Head of E-Mobility Group Procurement Heinze again. In response to the question of whether Chinese suppliers are the answer to everything regarding the “E-question”, he shakes his head. No, it’s always about the best overall solution — regardless who has it in the end. Only it has to be timely and well-proven. There is a Win-Win situation: “There are outstanding suppliers who bring a lot of skills and experience to the table. In return, we, as a global company, can offer our platforms, the volume and market access. This results in major opportunities for both sides if we combine and consolidate our strengths.”
The next objective is now to change up a gear to increase the speed. The perspective is hereby crystal clear for Head of E Procurement Heinze: “Today, Daimler is the market leader in Trucks and Buses. Thus, the clear goal to also be the leader in the so-called zero-emission transportation solutions segment in the future – with electric mobility as the key technology. This requires partnerships with the best.”
This means the electric future of Trucks & Busses is especially one thing: charged up with excitement.
Note: This articles was originally published on Sept.16, 2019 on the previous Daimler Supplier Magazine Online platform.