Mercedes-Benz launches U.S. battery company

Source: Christa Marshall, E&E News reporter • Posted: Monday, November 7, 2016

Watch out, Tesla. Mercedes-Benz is making a play for the U.S. energy storage market.

In a brief statement this morning, Daimler AG announced the formation of Mercedes-Benz Energy Americas LLC to sell lithium-ion batteries for homes, businesses and utilities starting in early 2017.

The move puts Mercedes in direct competition with Tesla Motors Inc. and other firms trying to be the business of choice in the U.S. stationary battery market.

Brett Simon, power storage analyst at GTM Research, said the move is significant because Daimler is an established company with strong brand recognition.

“The U.S. residential storage market still lacks household names for its market players, perhaps with the exception of Tesla, and thus Mercedes-Benz will likely have an edge over the competition thanks to more potential customers recognizing its brand,” Simon said.

“Furthermore,” he said, “customers won’t need to worry that a company like Mercedes-Benz will exist for the length of the storage system warranty, increasing the likelihood that a residential customer will choose a Mercedes-Benz system.”

The CEO of Mercedes-Benz Energy Americas will be Boris von Bormann, formerly the CEO of Sonnen Inc., which has a U.S. stationary storage product.

Daimler’s move follows the launch of its German-based Mercedes-Benz Energy GmbH, which is also focusing on stationary storage.

“Mercedes Benz Energy is uniquely positioned to not only offer solutions to the energy and storage market that will help utilities, businesses and home-owners save costs and solve needs, but also combine the advantages of electric vehicles and energy solutions into one holistic platform,” said von Bormann in a statement.

The new company said its initial product will have 2.5 kilowatt-hours of capacity that could be combined “up to 20 kWh and used in various applications such as back-up power and solar self-consumption.”

Tesla launched its Powerwall and Powerpack stationary battery products last year to be tied with solar energy. Daimler is planning to tap the same battery technology — and use the advanced testing procedures — associated with its cars.

The behind-the-meter storage market is expected to surge in the next five years to make up more than 50 percent of the U.S. market by 2021, up from 15 percent in 2015, according to GTM Research.