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The maker of Mercedes cars is spending $23 billion on batteries

Posted at 1:52 PM, Dec 11, 2018

(CNN) -- The maker of Mercedes-Benz cars is spending billions on batteries as it accelerates the electrification of its product range.

Daimler said in statement on Tuesday it was spending €20 billion ($23 billion) on battery cells, and investing another €1 billion ($1.1 billion) in eight battery factories in Germany, China, Thailand and the United States.

The German carmaker wants to offer an electric or hybrid version of all its models by 2022, and it says the battery cell purchases will ensure a steady supply of essential components until 2030.

"We are systematically pushing forward with the transformation into the electric future of our company," Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche said in the statement.

German automakers are investing heavily in new technology in a race for the future as tech companies and upstarts like Tesla (TSLA) plow money into electric and autonomous cars.

Daimler (DDAIF) has already completed one battery factory in Germany, where it plans to build four more plants. It will build another near an existing car plant in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and one each in Beijing and Bangkok.

The company plans to offer 130 electric and hybrid models by 2022, in addition to electric vans, buses and trucks.

Daimler said it would scrutinize all suppliers of raw materials used to make batteries. One key element is cobalt, much of which is mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

An investigation by CNN earlier this year found that children were still working in small cobalt mines in the country.

Daimler said it has 700 engineers working to audit suppliers, which must disclose their entire supply chain "right back to the mines." The company said it was also working with human rights experts.

Rival German carmaker Volkswagen (VLKAF) said last year that it would spend more than €50 billion ($57 billion) on battery cells as it pushes to electrify all 300 models in its range by 2030.

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