Mercedes-Benz restructuring its global production network to build more cars

Article by Christian A., on March 30, 2012

Mercedes-Benz had recorded an average production time of 43 hours for its models in 2008 but the company is now working to restructure its worldwide production network so that it could bring down this figure to 30 hours by 2015. Mercedes production boss Wolfgang Bernhard announced this during an investor conference that was included in the automaker's plant opening here.

He said that in the past few years, its productivity has been given a 2% boost. He said that soon, its productivity efforts will be accelerating. A major factor in this restructuring is that Mercedes will cut in half its vehicle architectures to two by 2015.

However it will double its number of model variants to 30. Bernhard said that the company is a “major enabler." The Mercedes Front Wheel Architecture (MFA) is meant for compact cars like the A class and B class and are intended for plants in Rastatt, Germany; Kecskemet, Hungary; and Beijing. The entire lineup will have Mercedes Rear Wheel Architecture (MRA) will cover the other aspects in the automaker's lineup.

These will be used in plants in Bremen and Sindelfingen, Germany; Vance, Alabama, USA; and East London, South Africa. Mercedes presently has four architectures: rear-, front- and all-wheel drive as well as one for sports cars. This count had excluded the platform used for the 33-year-old G class SUV made in Graz, Austria, by contract manufacturer Magna Steyr.

Bernhard said that in 1995, Daimler had 15 car platforms. He estimates that in 2020, more than 50% of the automaker’s assembly capacity will be made outside Europe. This is 10% higher than in 2010. He said that by 2020, at least 40% of the company’s powertrain making capacity would be outside of Germany. Almost all of Mercedes's powertrain plants are in Germany now.

Marking out the new Mercedes-Benz A-Class’ exterior design are its tautly drawn surfaces and defined edges. Plus, the constant interaction between the convex and concave surfaces creates a lovely interplay of light, especially along the sides, contributing to the car’s unique appearance.

The typical features of the car’s long and sporty front include its pronounced V-shape, its radiator grille carrying the central Mercedes-Benz star, the double slats to both sides of the star, its separate headlamps, and the air intakes on its sides. Moreover, the "dropping line" that is apparent in the car’s side profile dissipates towards its front end. Also, its headlamp design is a core element in the A-Class’ overall design concept, together with the lighting configurations.

Additionally, the light modules and the LEDs inside the headlamps’ cover glass are arranged in a way that creates that characteristic "flare effect" for indicators and daytime driving lights. This so-called "flare" is composed of the headlamp’s feature line, the bulb sets for indicators, and the LED modules for daytime running lamps. This signature effect lends an energetic look to the car and also helps define a new and youthful look for Mercedes.

The car’s roof displays the perfect and most apparent interplay between dynamic design and outstanding aerodynamics, with its taut curves and smooth surfaces and its silhouette revealing smooth, flowing lines that finish in a flat edge. Moreover, the roof spoiler conveniently hides all the aerials, as well as provides an added sporty touch and gives the roof assembly some needed structure.

In addition, the beltline rises up to the car’s rear in order to form a prominent wedge shape. Meanwhile, the car’s side view is distinguishable by its crisp lines and sensuously molded and sculptural side panels. On the other hand, the front structural edge atop the wing falls in a gentle arc and in a dropping line towards the rear.

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