FRANKFURT, Germany - Daimler said on Thursday it had struck a deal with workers to make electric car components and batteries at the Mercedes-Benz factory in Untertuerkheim, near Stuttgart, in addition to combustion engines, transmissions, and axles.
Untertuerkheim is operating at full capacity. But the 19,000 workers at the plant demanded assurances that jobs would be guaranteed as the auto industry shifts to electric cars, which have fewer components than diesel or gasoline vehicles.
Workers at Untertuerkheim went on strike this month, leading to the cancellation of overtime shifts to make the new Mercedes-Benz E-Class model and forcing the management into talks.
As part of the deal, Untertuerkheim will become a competence center for integrating the electric powertrain into production, and will include a battery production facility, in addition to battery plants in Kamenz and Beijing.
The agreement created more than 250 new jobs in the field of electric vehicle production, Daimler said.
Powertrain modules for electric vehicles will be assembled in Untertuerkheim and supplied to other locations like the Mercedes-Benz passenger car plant in Sindelfingen.
"With this further development, Untertuerkheim will continue to be the lead plant in the global powertrain production network," Mercedes-Benz cars production chief Markus Schaefer said.
The labor pact includes changes to the plant's shifts and flexible workforce measures, as well as assurances that Mercedes-Benz will develop Untertuerkheim into a competence center to test electric-drive prototypes.
"We are getting a project house in which experts from our research and development department will develop know-how for the electric drive systems of future EQ models," Wolfgang Nieke, chairman of Untertuerkheim's works council, said in a statement.
By 2025, fully electric vehicles are to account for between 15 and 25 percent of the total unit sales of Mercedes-Benz.
Reporting by Edward Taylor