Mercedes buys UK start-up Yasa as it steps up electric transition

Mercedes has started a British electric car, as the German carmaker wants to strengthen its technology with the aim of being ready to sell only battery-powered vehicles by the end of the decade.

Yasa, which was founded in 2009 from Oxford University, manufactures the next generation of electric cars for performance cars and counts Ferrari and other supercars among its customers.

Its products, known as axial flood motors, offer greater efficiency and are smaller than traditional electric drives, enabling vehicles to drive more kilometers at a single charge, the companies said.

“We can deliver the same power and torque in a lighter package,” Yasa CEO Chris Harris told the Financial Times.

Details of the cash for all cash have not been disclosed, but Yasa was valued at £ 100 million at the end of its last round of financing in 2019.

The company, which has been working with Mercedes for two years, will now supply cars for a range of new electric models in the carmaker’s AMG range.

Mercedes-AMG CEO Philipp Schiemer said Yasa’s technology would help the series stay one step ahead of the competition.

The announcement by Mercedes comes on Thursday as part of a strategy update by its parent company Daimler, in which it unveils a plan to accelerate its electrical transition.

“We want to go much faster,” Daimler CEO Ola Kallenius told the Financial Times.

From 2025 onwards, he added that all new “architectures”, or car designs, built by Mercedes would be electric only.

While not wanting to name a date for the sale of the last internal combustion engine, Kallenius said he would “set up the business to be electric only by the end of the decade”, to meet consumer demand and new regulations to comply.

Last week, the EU announced a plan to ban the sale of new internal combustion engines by 2035, causing a furious setback for many of the automotive industry.

But Kallenius said that although such laws would play a role in the transition, ‘the investor has decided that this shift has already taken place’, and the market rewards companies with ambitious electrical plans.

A Yasa axle flow electric motor
An electric motor with ash flow, which offers greater efficiency than traditional electric drives © Yasa

The Swedish boss reiterated last year’s promise that Mercedes will eventually be able to achieve the same healthy profit margins it can currently earn from its range of internal combustion engines – which are believed to be above 20 percent for top models – with sales of electric cars.

However, he said the profits from such sales come from a combination of the car itself and other services such as software subscriptions.

Mercedes has also announced plans to build eight gigabytes around the world to manufacture battery cells for its electric models in partnership with other companies. The group already has connections with the battery cell technology companies Farasis and CATL, but said it plans to work with ‘new’ European partners’.

Yasa, which employs about 250 people, will remain in Oxford, the companies said.

Harris said the acquisition was a ‘very proud moment for the UK and for innovation in the UK’, and that it would ‘ensure high quality manufacturing work’ [in the country] for at least the next decade ”, because that is how long the current contracts with customers will last.

Mercedes, he added, “did not buy Yasa just to take over the IP to Germany”. He also confirmed that Brexit was not an obstacle to the deal, and that he “never entered into talks with the company”.

Despite the purchase of Mercedes, Yasa will continue to work with existing customers competing with the German brand, Harris said. “We have very good relationships with all our supercar customers.”

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