The new Mercedes-Benz A-Class: Production - At home in the centre of competence for compact cars

The first new A-Class vehicles will be rolling off the production line in Rastatt (Baden, Germany) from the September 2012. The entire factory has beenextended and modernised for this purpose, developing it into a centre of excellence for compact vehicles from Mercedes-Benz at an investment volume of 600 million euros. In addition, a new factory has been built in Kecskemét, Hungary at a cost of 800 million euros. This is where the B-Class will initially be produced, in addition to Rastatt, to create more capacity for the A-Class at the plant in Baden and allow for more flexibility overall in the production of compact class vehicles. The company is thus investing a total of around 1.4 billion euros in the two plants. This follows on from Daimler AG's investment of around 900 million euros in the Rastatt factory for the second-generation A-Class and B-Class between 2002 and 2005.

A new production building has been installed alongside the existing buildings in Rastatt. The new building houses the body shell shop. The body shell shop has a direct rail link, enabling the direct delivery and unloading of parts at the production shop. The additional body shell shop covers an area of around 66,000 square metres.

Parts from the local region are also to be installed here: after a construction phase of only twelve months, a new press shop opened in nearby Kuppenheim in May 2011 as part of Mercedes-Benz's Gaggenau plant. This entailed investments totalling around 70 million euros.

The new press shop is equipped with an interlinked press line, two gripper transfer presses and 24 welding lines with a total of 130 industrial robots for the purposes of component production. The new building has been provided with a sound-absorbing wall and double sound-absorbing doors on the side facing the local residents. All presses are additionally fitted with state-of-the-art vibration dampers which prevent the emission of vibrations into the surrounding environment. The shop also incorporates an air-conditioned measuring centre, where the quality of the pressed parts and welded components undergoes continuous monitoring.

Around 600 different components are produced in Kuppenheim: outer skin components, structural components and welded components for the generations of the A- and B-Class and for Mercedes-Benz trucks. The press shop currently has a workforce of around 130. If production is running to full capacity in 2015, around 280 people will be employed at the plant. Pressed parts for the A and B-Class are also supplied by the Sindelfingen factory.

Integrated production set-up comprising Rastatt and Kecskemét factories

The completely new factory in Kecskemét, Hungary. was inaugurated in March 2012. It comprises a press shop, body shell shop, paint shop and assembly shop. The two factories form an integrated production set-up under the direction of the Rastatt plant manager. Rastatt will serve as the headquarters for compact class production, with four model variants of the new compact class to be manufactured in Baden and two in Hungary. This set-up provides Mercedes-Benz with the necessary flexibility to respond to shifts in demands and to cope with the expected growth in the production volume. The Rastatt factory had a workforce of around 6100 at the start of 2012, and a further 500 will be employed in the course of the year. When the set-up is running to full capacity, Kecskemét will employ around 3000.

Hungarian employees have been undergoing extensive training in Rastatt for some months now, while experts from Rastatt are on site in Kecskemét to ensure a smooth start-up of operations at the factory. The two plants are linked by a regular bus service.

The plant in Rastatt commenced production operations in May 1992. Up until 1996 it initially produced the E-Class, and from 1997 it became home to the new A-Class. More than 2,100,000 vehicles making up the first two generations of the A-Class have been sold.


Credits: Daimler AG

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