MAN prepares for electric drive system transition

Beginning in 2025, MAN Truck & Bus will manufacture high-voltage batteries for electric trucks in large-scale production.

The German company will invest around 100 million euros ($AUD151.6M) over the next five years at its traditional production site for combustion engines in Nuremberg.

Eventually production capacities will be expanded to an estimated 100,000 batteries per year.

The decision to invest in the battery production facility, which is expected to secure 350 jobs, was made in close cooperation between MAN Truck & Bus, employee representatives and with the active support of Bavarian politicians.

The decision also gives Nuremberg’s traditional location a clear perspective for the future.

Initially, the batteries, which along with the engines form the heart of electric commercial vehicle drives, will be manufactured manually at the MAN plant in Nuremberg in a small series production for about two and a half years.

Construction of large-scale production is scheduled to start in mid-2023 and to be completed by the end of 2024.

The news all but confirms MAN is laying the foundations for the large-scale industrialisation of electric drive systems for trucks and buses.

The commercial vehicle manufacturer is receiving support from the Bavarian State Government, which has promised a contribution of around 30 million euros to energy research and technology funding for the period 2023 to 2027, provided that the funding and budgetary requirements are met.

These funds will be used to conduct research in battery assembly, cell chemistry and development, battery safety, and ultimately battery recycling to ensure the sustainability of the propulsion mode.

“We are now starting to industrialise electromobility and continue on our path to climate-neutral mobility in commercial vehicles,” said Alexander Vlaskamp, Chairman of the Executive Board of MAN Truck & Bus SE.

“It is a groundbreaking location and investment decision. At the same time, it is part of MAN’s transformation into a provider of sustainable transport solutions,” he said.

The investment, according to Vlaskamp, now paves the way for a commercial vehicle e-cluster ‘made in Bavaria’, consisting of the production of e-trucks at MAN in Munich, battery production in Nuremberg, research & development at both locations and cooperation with the respective colleges, universities and institutes.

“With our investment decision, we are securing around 350 jobs at the Nuremberg site and hundreds if not thousands of jobs in Germany,” he said.

“Such important decisions can only be made in close cooperation with all parties involved from the employer and employee sides as well as politics.”

The batteries are the result of complex assembly.

Made of battery cells, which in turn are grouped into modules and combined in individual layers to form a battery housing (pack), the batteries will require high levels of know-how and strict safety standards.

Depending on the range, a heavy electric truck will need up to six battery packs.

It is anticipated that this will initially give MAN’s e-trucks a range of 600 to 800 kilometres.

In the next generation of battery technology, ranges of up to 1,000 kilometres are expected by the year 2026. This will finally make the e-truck suitable for long-distance transport.

Around the middle of the current decade, the total cost of ownership for an e-truck and a diesel-powered one will be at the same level according to MAN Truck & Bus.

MAN therefore expects customer demand for e-vehicles to increase significantly by then at the latest – assuming the appropriate charging infrastructure is in place.

The production of heavy e-trucks will start at MAN in Munich at the beginning of 2024. The manufacturer has already put a small series on the road in 2019. MAN has also had fully electric city buses and vans on the market for some time.

With a history dating back around 180 years, the Nuremberg plant is a strong part of MAN’s roots.

Trucks or components have been manufactured in Nuremberg for over a hundred years.

Today, the site, with its approximately 3,600 employees, is responsible for the development, production, and external sales of all MAN diesel and gas engines.

Under its “electrification” plans, a new chapter is now beginning for the Nuremberg production and development site, which will also increasingly take on tasks within the TRATON GROUP of which it is a member alongside Scania and Volkswagen.

Having capable heavy truck battery production facility is likely to strengthen MAN Truck & Bus’ position within the TRATON GROUP as a competence partner for electromobility.

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