Mercedes-Benz adds third shift at Hungary plant to meet demand for compact cars

Article by Andrew Christian, on March 20, 2014

Mercedes-Benz is adding a third shift at its Kecskemet site in Hungary to continue catering to with growing demand for its compact cars. The extra shift at the Kecskemet site will start in May, Daimler said in a statement. The Kecskemet site builds the B class and CLA models. It will continue to build on selected Saturdays this after adding work on the weekend in 2013.

"Our production has hardly kept up with the dynamic sales development of our compacts," chief executive Dieter Zetsche said in the statement. "This allows us to serve the wishes of our customers around the world even better and timelier." The extra shift in Kecskemet follows other moves by Mercedes to increase output of entry-level vehicles.

In October 2012, Mercedes added a third shift to its Rastatt site in Germany that builds the A-class hatchback, the GLA compact SUV and the B class. Valmet Automotive Inc. started building the A class for Mercedes in 2013 under a contract to assemble more than 100,000 units through 2016.

The Kecskemet site has 3,400-strong workforce at the end of 2013, with staffing set to increase with the additional shift, according to company spokesman Sebastian Wahle. The site built around 109,000 cars in 2013.

Mercedes in recent months has been outgrowing its main rivals in terms of global sales, thanks to demand for its compact vehicles. A 30-percent jump in sales of compacts in the first two months of 2014, lead to a 17-percent gain for the brand.

Mercedes’ compact range is key to Zetsche's goal of surpassing BMW’s core brand in sales by 2020. In 2013, the Mercedes brand sold 1.46 million globally, while main rivals BMW and Audi delivered 1.66 million and 1.58 million units, respectively.

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