January 24, 2019 / 3:44 PM / 9 months ago

Mercedes-Benz to deepen alliances with Chinese auto suppliers

STUTTGART, Jan 24 (Reuters) - Daimler will deepen partnerships with Chinese suppliers in the area of electric and connected cars, Wilko Stark, board member for procurement at Mercedes-Benz said on Thursday.

Stark, who is currently head of Procurement and Supplier Quality at Mercedes-Benz said the shift toward electric and connected cars has made Mercedes-Benz more dependent on battery cell chemistry and connected vehicles expertise from outside.

“China will dramatically increase in importance,” Stark said at a news conference in Stuttgart discussing the German carmaker’s procurement strategy.

“China is setting the pace on electric mobility, and lots of cell producers come from China. There are no European or U.S. players in this field,” Stark said.

“In the area of connectivity services the Chinese are ahead of the Americans, we have no choice but to deepen our relationship with these suppliers,” he said, naming China’s Alibaba and Tencent as leading players.

Daimler is also thinking about a broader batteries alliance in view of the challenge carmakers face trying to police potential ethical or human rights violations mining rare earths like Cobalt, which is needed for electric car batteries.

“But there are no formal decisions in this area,” Stark said.

Separately, Stark said the replacement of Carlos Ghosn as Renault chairman will have no impact on an alliance between Renault and Mercedes.

“We have a relatively stable cooperation and supply agreement with Renault-Nissan. This supply relationship is stable and will remain unchanged,” Stark said.

Renault on Thursday appointed Michelin boss Jean-Dominique Senard as its new chairman after Carlos Ghosn was forced to resign in the wake of a financial scandal that has rocked the French carmaker and its partner Nissan. (Reporting by Edward Taylor; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)

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