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Mercedes Exec Says EV Assembly Isn’t Huge Change From The Norm

Mercedes may not have been one of the first to pledge its support and move forward with EVs, but since it’s started producing and selling them, it has done so quite quickly, and with little complaint. The German luxury brand is beginning to crank out compelling, long-range EVs as if it’s been doing so for years.

Automotive News writes that industry analysts are concerned about a massive amount of job losses as the automotive industry transitions from gas to electric cars. The thought behind this is that EVs have fewer moving parts and will become easier to build, requiring fewer workers. 

While we’ve heard time and time again from automakers and industry experts that EVs are difficult and expensive and going to lead to the elimination of many jobs, perhaps that doesn’t really have to be the case.

Any time something comes along that’s new and different, there are hurdles. However, once it’s all figured out and the bottlenecks and supply chain issues are worked out, oftentimes it becomes clear that the new technology is actually easier and more affordable. At the same time, as the industry gradually transitions and workers are retrained, there may not end up being some massive wave of permanent layoffs. 

That said, the CEO of Mercedes-Benz US International Michael Göbel has learned amid the transition that the process for assembling an EV is really not all that different from assembling a gas-powered car, and he doesn’t see thousands of job cuts.

Göbel told Automotive News based on his experiences related to Mercedes’ 6,300-employee Alabama factory, which produces most of the world’s EQS and EQE vehicles:

“We heard so many discussions in the past where folks were scared this move into the electric future [would] cost thousands.”

“At least in the final assembly, we don’t see that right now. There is really not a big difference in build time.”

“The basics about screwing, or clipping, or gluing are the same processes.”

Not only is the CEO dispelling myths that EVs are so difficult to manufacture, but also that the same amount of jobs may be necessary to complete the process.

Göbel did admit that the EV battery pack is where the big differences lie. He says dealing with the battery pack comes down to “tolerances and accuracies” the industry hasn’t really seen before. However, with proper training and practice, virtually anything is possible.

With all of this said, the Mercedes executive also makes it clear that automotive manufacturing needs to become more efficient. Finding cheaper, quicker methods for putting together a vehicle certainly isn’t a bad thing. Göbel said:

“We need to get more efficient in the manufacturing world; we need to find efficiencies with our suppliers. I’m convinced you will find cheaper, quicker ways to assemble an electric car maybe in five or 10 years.”

If it turns out that EVs are easier and quicker to assemble and require fewer bodies, the cars could become less expensive. Meanwhile, there are and likely will become many more opportunities for work related to EVs going forward. Companies need people to deal with battery cells, battery packs, software systems, charging infrastructure, and the list goes on and on. 

Mercedes aims to have EVs make up about half of its US sales by 2030. In 2023 alone, it has a goal to sell as many as 45,000 EQ-branded electric vehicles. Initially, the automaker was skeptical about the demand for EVs, so it kept producing gas cars alongside the future vehicle. However, it’s already aware it severely underestimated customer support for electric cars.

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