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[Herald Interview] Performance hybridization is future for Mercedes-AMG: CEO

AMG chief says development of high power battery is on the way without revealing possible partner

The world of performance cars is moving toward electrification, and Mercedes-AMG, a high performance brand of German luxury carmaker Mercedes-Benz, hopes to take the lead.

Tobias Moers, chairman of the board of management of Mercedes-AMG, said in a recent interview with The Korea Herald that the company has set a clear direction to head toward electrification ultimately. In the meantime, the company will focus on developing performance hybrids with high power batteries.

“The future, especially in the performance segment, is electrified -- is hybridization,” he said at Hansung Motor’s AMG showroom in Cheongdam-dong, southern Seoul.

“Beyond the year 2020, you can (first) expect hybrid engines, performance hybrids ... and the second, we will have a closer look to EQ … as a technology brand.”

EQ is an upcoming brand by Mercedes-Benz consisting of all-electric vehicles.

Tobias Moers, chairman of the board of management of Mercedes-AMG (Mercedes-AMG)
Tobias Moers, chairman of the board of management of Mercedes-AMG (Mercedes-AMG)

When asked about a possible partnership with South Korean battery makers in the course of electrifying AMG’s motorsports DNA, Moers declined to comment, but said that the development of high performance hybrid batteries is “on the way.” “We used to work with SK (Innovation) regarding (the development of the) SLS Electric Drive. But it is too early to talk about.”

The chief of the AMG unit at Daimler AG was in Seoul to celebrate the launch of the AMG Speedway in Yongin, Gyeonggi Province. The track, formerly a private entity by Samsung Chairman Lee Kun-hee, has been rebranded as the first exclusive racetrack for AMG in the world.

The launch came after forging a partnership with Samsung C&T’s resort division. Details of the partnership, including the length of contracts, are confidential, officials at AMG said. South Korean tech giant Samsung has been expanding its business to the auto segment by acquiring Harman Industries. It also has a battery making unit, Samsung SDI, one of the top three battery makers in the world.

The German brand was launching the first racetrack in South Korea, considering its importance as a growing market, its exceptional community of customers and in terms of its strategy of going green. The AMG Speedway will also be used for the launch of new models, various experience-based events for AMG as well as Mercedes-Benz owners, and the AMG Driving Academy open to the general public.

“Korea for years, since we established (operation here) has played a major role for us, regarding a lot of things … regarding engineering … the Korean market has very a clear demand on us regarding emission certification and this is always a huge focus on our internal development,” he said.

“This is why we are talking about expanding network regarding AMG performance … we do seek full opportunities for the future, especially in regard to our strategy of moving toward hybridization.”

Marking its 50th anniversary last year, Mercedes-AMG sold 131,970 units throughout the year. A total of 3,206 units of AMG cars were sold in Korea, recording 56 percent year-on-year growth, the company said. AMG’s sales in Korea outperformed the global average growth rate of 33 percent, making it a global top 10 AMG market, the company added.

With the auto industry all striving toward electrification and autonomous driving, the AMG CEO said the pleasure of driving, as in the form of a pure human activity, will be kept in the market. And the boldness and the courage AMG has demonstrated with products will be pursued in the future, he said.

Moers has been leading AMG since 2013, and has been a member of the executive board of Mercedes-AMG since 2011. He joined Mercedes-AMG in 1994 and assumed overall responsibility for the main model series of the AMG brand in 1999. Prior to joining AMG, Moers was involved in developing a concept for an electric vehicle, the company said.

By Cho Chung-un (
Korea Herald Youtube