Mercedes-Benz has started production at its new passenger-car plant in Brazil, thereby extending its worldwide production network as part of the ‘Mercedes-Benz 2020’ growth strategy. The new site at Iracemápolis in the Sao Paulo metropolitan area was officially opened by representatives of Daimler at a ceremony attended by guests from politics, industry and society. The first vehicle to roll off the production line was a black C-Class Saloon.
“The opening of the Mercedes-Benz Iracemápolis plant is a further milestone in the development of our flexible and efficient production network. The global production network of Mercedes-Benz Cars comprises 26 locations which are organised in production compounds according to the vehicle architecture. With the local production, we are strengthening our global competitiveness and will be closer to our Brazilian customers and their needs for passenger cars of the premium brand Mercedes-Benz,” said Markus Schäfer, Member of the Divisional Board of Mercedes-Benz Cars, Manufacturing and Supply Chain Management.
Strong commitment to Brazil as a key location
Following the production start of the C-Class at the Mercedes-Benz Iracemápolis plant, the GLA compact SUV will also be rolling off the production line beginning this summer. In the first stage, the plant is designed for an annual capacity of 20,000 vehicles.
Mercedes-Benz achieved record unit sales in Brazil in 2015. “We believe in the long-term perspective of the passenger-car market in Brazil,” declared Schäfer. “The plant in Iracemápolis points the way ahead for our medium-sized plants in terms of layout and technology. The plant’s level of automation is significantly lower than in traditional Mercedes-Benz plants. Thereby, we achieve a highly flexible and top-quality production to satisfy local demand.” As part of the global production network, Iracemápolis is connected to all Mercedes-Benz Cars locations around the world, allowing a location-independent access to production data and process management. Every single installation and every robot, for example, can be centrally managed and updated to new software programmes.
Regarding Brazil’s special role in the production network of the company, Philipp Schiemer, President of Mercedes-Benz do Brasil and CEO Latin America, stated: “Mercedes-Benz do Brasil has been firmly established here since 1956. The opening of a new assembly plant 60 years later is a strong commitment to this location and rounds off the product spectrum: this move will see Mercedes-Benz locally producing passenger cars in addition to trucks and buses.”
Construction in record time
Mercedes-Benz invests a total of over BRL 600 million in the new passenger-car site creating 600 jobs at the plant. Further jobs are being generated at suppliers and service providers in the region. Just 19 months elapsed between the concept decision and the start of production. “At Mercedes-Benz, we have tried-and-tested standards and factory kits for our passenger-car plants, both for planning and for installations and processes. Their implementation enabled an extremely short construction period and ensured that the plant was up and running quickly. The rapid project success was facilitated by highly capable partners and the dedication of our team,” added Schäfer.
Qualification within the network
In terms of the recruitment and training of its workforce, the company closely cooperates with SENAI, the Brazilian national service for industrial training. A new Training Centre has been set up in Iracemápolis for this purpose. To support their training, employees were sent to other Mercedes-Benz plants where they were able to familiarise themselves with the production processes and further integrate the new location into the international plant network through personal relations. One of the leading locations here was the sister plant in Pune, India, which likewise produces the C-Class. Some employees also spent several weeks training at the Mercedes-Benz Bremen plant (Germany), the lead plant for the C-Class, and at the Kecskemét plant (Hungary), which produces compact models.
Mercedes-Benz’s global assembly network
The new plant in Brazil is part of Mercedes-Benz’s global assembly network. This network also includes the production facilities in India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. At these locations, Mercedes-Benz produces vehicles in various extension levels for local markets.