Production of long-wheelbase 2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class kicks off in China

Article by Christian A., on July 30, 2014

Mercedes-Benz has finally commenced the production of a long-wheelbase version of the C-Class, less than half a year since it started assembly of the standard model. It didn’t even take six months since Mercedes began the assembly of the new C-Class in Bremen, Germany for the first long-wheelbase C-Class model to roll off the production line at Beijing Benz Automotive Co., Ltd. (BBAC) in China.

To be introduced in China in September, the long-wheelbase C-Class marks a new strategic milestone for Daimler in a market considered as the largest in world.

Hubertus Troska, member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG responsible for China, remarked that the C-Class is at the core of the company’s development in China. He noted that China is the second largest market for the C-Class, after delivering over 150,000 units of the previous model in the country. He quipped that the all-new long-wheelbase C-Class represents the next massive step for Daimler in China. Troska said that they expect the long-wheelbase C-Class to be one of their top growth drivers in China, as the vehicle was designed and developed for this market as well as produced exclusively in the country.

Frank Deiss, president and chief executive of BBAC, noted that the C-Class sedan is their most global model, with production being done in four plants in four continents. He added that as a part of Mercedes’ global production network, BBAC has a commitment to deliver ‘The best or nothing’ in Beijing. He noted that this mantra has been a driving factor of the carmaker’s success in the past and will still be in the future.

Markus Schafer, Divisional Board Member Mercedes-Benz Cars in charge of Production and Supply Chain Management, commented that the start of the production of the C-Class in Beijing reveals the final piece of the puzzle in building a flexible yet efficient production network on four continents. He noted that a global ramp up within less than six months is unmatched in the premium segment so far.

Mercedes’ Bremen site serves as the lead plant, leading the global production of the C-Class in practically all fields -- tooling strategy, employee training in international plants and even production quality. This way, Mercedes could ensure top quality at all production plants right from the start. In fact, the Bremen plant has intensively trained around 500 employees from international plants in South Africa (East London site), United States (Tuscaloosa site), and China (Beijing); in the process passing on their knowledge as multipliers.

Compared to the standard C-Class, the new long-wheelbase version features a wheelbase that has been extended by 8 cm, resulting to a more spacious and more comfortable interior felt most in the rear cabin, where the backseat legroom has been further maximized.

The new long-wheelbase C-Class is laden with more advanced technology as well as a host of assistant systems that allow this new model to offer maximum safety and convenience in its segment. These technologies include a semi-autonomous driving pilot as well as a touchpad that could comprehend Chinese handwriting to operate the head unit functions. Amazingly, even the engines that will be fitted inside the new C-Class are manufactured locally at BBAC in Beijing and at Mercedes’ first passenger car engine factory outside of Germany.

BBAC is a joint venture between Daimler and Chinese partner BAIC Motor that manufactures Mercedes-Benz passenger cars (since 2006) and engines (since 2013). BBAC produced around 120,000 vehicles last year, which makes up for around half of Mercedes’ total sales volume in China. Through 2015, Daimler and BAIC Motor are jointly making EUR4 billion in investments into BBAC, EUR1 billion of which was used to expand its domestic car and engine production capacity.

The investment is expected to more than double the current production capacities at BBAC for the C-Class, the E-Class and the GLK-Class to more than 200,000 annually by 2015. Next year, BBAC will commence production of the compact GLA.

Mercedes’ four- and six-cylinder engines built at BBAC are fitted into domestically produced BBAC cars and into vans locally assembled by Fujian Benz Automotive Co., Ltd. (FBAC), also a local joint venture by Daimler. Having an annual capacity of 250,000 units for the first phase, BBAC’s engine production line was designed to build different engine types.

BBAC’s new R&D site just recently went into full operation, after receiving around EUR90 million in investments. Considered as the largest of Daimler’s joint venture R&D centers in the world, the BBAC R&D site conducts component and vehicle testing. It also supports all production tests and future localization. The new BBAC R&D site will be manned by a cross-functional team of around 700 employees from R&D, quality management and purchasing.

Press Release

Start of Production in Beijing: New long-wheelbase C-Class strengthens Mercedes-Benz’ China portfolio

Mercedes-Benz for the first time has started production of a long-wheelbase version of the C-Class. Not even six months after the start of production of the new C-Class in Bremen, Germany, the first long-wheelbase C-Class model has rolled off its production line at Beijing Benz Automotive Co., Ltd. (BBAC) in China. The model, which will be launched in China starting this September, is an important addition to Mercedes-Benz’ portfolio and marks another key milestone in Daimler’s China strategy.

“The C-Class is at the core of our development in China. With more than 150,000 vehicles of the predecessor model delivered to customers, China has already become the second-largest market for the C-Class,” says Hubertus Troska, member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG responsible for China. “Now we are taking the next step: designed and developed for China, produced exclusively in China, our all-new long-wheelbase C-Class is destined to become one of our top growth drivers here.”

Frank Deiss, President and CEO of BBAC: “Given its production in four plants on four continents, the C-Class sedan is our most global model. As a part of Mercedes-Benz’ global production network, we are committed to deliver ‘The best or nothing’ – in Beijing, like elsewhere. This has always been a driving factor of our great success in the past, and will continue to be so in the future.”

Markus Schäfer, Divisional Board Member Mercedes-Benz Cars, Production and Supply Chain Management: “The start of the C-Class’ production in Beijing marks the final jigsaw piece in creating a flexible and highly efficient production network on four continents. Such a global ramp up within less than six month is unparalleled in the premium segment so far.”

The Bremen plant, in its capacity as the so-called lead plant, is guiding the global production of the C-Class – from the tooling strategy to the training of colleagues from international plants to production quality. With this, the company ensures top quality at all its production sites from the outset. In total, some 500 employees from international plants in East London/South Africa, Tuscaloosa/USA, and Beijing/China completed intensive training in Germany in order to pass on their knowledge as multipliers in their respective home plants - among them more than 150 from Beijing.

The new long-wheelbase C-Class

With a wheelbase that is an extra 8 centimeters long, the long-wheelbase version of the C-Class offers its passengers the highest level of comfort with maximized backseat legroom. For even more comfort, the front row passenger seat can be adjusted by passengers sitting in the back seat.

With more advanced technology and a full range of assistant systems including a semi-autonomous driving pilot and an innovative touchpad that allows for operations of the head unit functions through Chinese handwriting, the new long-wheelbase C-Class also offers maximum safety and the latest in technology in its segment.

The engines powering the new C-Class are locally produced at BBAC in Beijing as well at Mercedes-Benz’ first ever passenger car engine plant outside of Germany.

About Beijing Benz Automotive Co., Ltd. (BBAC)

BBAC, a joint venture between Daimler and Chinese partner BAIC Motor, has been producing Mercedes-Benz passenger cars since 2006 and engines since 2013. Last year, around 120,000 vehicles rolled off production lines at BBAC, accounting for approximately one-half of Mercedes-Benz’ total sales volume in China.

Both partners are jointly investing €4 billion in BBAC through 2015, of which €1 billion alone was used for the expansion of local car and engine production capacity.

As a result, amongst others the existing production capacities at BBAC for the C-Class, the E-Class and the GLK-Class will be more than doubled to over 200,000 annually by 2015 – which by then will include the compact GLA, which will go into production at BBAC next year.

The Mercedes-Benz 4- and 6-cylinder engines produced at BBAC's engine plant are used in locally produced cars from BBAC and vans that are built by Daimler’s local joint venture Fujian Benz Automotive Co., Ltd. (FBAC). The production line was designed with flexibility in mind, with an annual capacity of 250,000 units for the first phase.

About €90 million have been invested into the new BBAC R&D site that became fully operational just recently, making it the largest of Daimler’s joint venture R&D centers in the world, doing component and vehicle testing and supporting all production tests as well as future localization. It will give home to a cross-functional team of about 700 employees from R&D, quality management and purchasing.

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