11 Oct 2023
From 2025, MAN will manufacture its own battery packs in a mass production facility in Nuremberg. The foundation stone for this key future project was laid on 10 October.
There are still lumps of concrete in Nuremberg where MAN is set to write the future of the eMobility revolution: by 2025, this empty site will be home to a state-of-the-art mass production facility for battery packs, where a 350-strong workforce will manufacture 100,000 battery units each year for eBuses and the new eTruck. “We have made huge strides in the last two years,” said MAN board member responsible for production Michael Kobriger at the foundation stone ceremony on 10 October 2023 in Nuremberg. The city’s mayor Marcus König added, “MAN Trucks have always been ambassadors for Nuremberg, and with its battery production, MAN is reaching another milestone for the city of Nuremberg and the Free State of Bavaria.”
The mobility transition towards electric-powered road freight has changed the entire sector in ways never seen before. MAN has made large, early investments to play an active role in the changes. Alongside building competence for the MAN eTruck in the Munich eMobility Centre, production preparation is currently moving constantly towards mass production. It was decided back in 2020 to build a mass production facility for battery packs in Nuremberg. With support from the city of Nuremberg and the Free State of Bavaria, together with a €100 million investment, the new M50 building will be completed by 2024, providing 16,000 m2 of space for the production of high-voltage batteries.
When the decision was made to choose Nuremberg as the future competence centre for alternative powertrains, the close collaboration between industry and politics also played a key role in its success. Alongside support and backing from the Free State of Bavaria, the MAN team at the Nuremberg site was also instrumental. “MAN worked at an incredible pace, we can only learn from that,” said mayor Marcus König as he thanked the “absolutely amazing team”. “We are a city of invention, and we want to stay that way,” said the mayor. “We create products in Nuremberg that are bought all around the world.” Partnerships with local universities Friedrich-Alexander University and the Georg-Simon-Ohm Technical University ensured long-term support for the location. The Campus Future Driveline, launched on the factory site at the beginning of 2023, also created an important link between science and industry, said König. Ulrich Zimmer, manager of the MAN Nuremberg site, sees a hopeful future for the Nuremberg metropolitan area: “It’s the start of something really big!”
To ensure that battery packs can be produced on a large scale at the Nuremberg MAN site from 2025, many smaller steps have been necessary. “We started manual assembly of battery packs in 2021 and identified and secured all the critical processes,” said Dr Markus Pröbster of the MAN eMobility Technical Centre. Intensive teamwork between production and development has since created around 300 battery units. Automated stations were added to complement manual assembly in 2023 and small-scale production lines were built, already producing an annual output of 2,400 packs. “The production processes are subject to constant development and optimisation,” explained Pröbster. As a result, series production should be able to begin promptly in the first quarter of 2025.
By then, the new L-shaped building should be complete, providing two floors and a height of 36 metres for large-scale series production. The lower floor will house logistics, while the actual production will take place on the upper floor. Here, a total of twelve individual modules will be combined to create a three- or four-layer “package” that will provide both eTrucks and MAN electric buses with power. A green roof and photovoltaic system are the finishing touches to this modern and sustainable production hall.
The first batteries from the small-series production are already fitted in the new MAN eTrucks, which will be rolling out to the first few selected customers from 2024. To test and optimise the eTrucks in the field, LoadFox Transport Solutions GmbH, a wholly owned subsidiary of MAN Truck & Bus, is using the first fully electric MAN trucks on popular internal factory logistics routes to provide transport between German sites in Nuremberg, Munich, Dachau and Salzgitter. Polish MAN factories in Krakow and Starachowice are set to follow soon. “The targeted collection of data and experience from field testing has enabled us to significantly speed up the development and quality checks of hardware and software for future products and services,” explained LoadFox managing director Florian Hagemann. Future testing will increasingly include self-driving functions, too.
MAN’s preparations for the megawatt charging standard, likely to be available from 2025, mean that the new MAN eTruck offers daily ranges of 600–800 kilometres, ideal for longer distance travel, and prospectively even up to 1,000 kilometres with just one interim charge during the driver’s 45-minute break. However, the new MAN eTruck will also be able to cover the majority of the typical transport tasks undertaken by today’s trucks without any problem, such as quiet and emissions-free refuse collection in cities or the collection of milk from organic farmers with an electric food tanker.
Text: Ralf Kund