Third ramp-up in the global production network: Start of production of the Mercedes-Benz A-Class in Finland
- Just a few weeks after the ramp-up at the German lead plant in Rastatt and in the Hungarian Mercedes-Benz plant in Kecskemét, the Finnish production partner Valmet Automotive in Uusikaupunki started the production of the new A-Class.
- Valmet Automotive supplements the flexible compact car production network of Mercedes-Benz Cars and produces units of the new A-Class.
- Markus Schäfer, Member of the Divisional Board of Mercedes-Benz Cars, Production and Supply Chain: “With the ramp-up of the new A-Class in Uusikaupunki, Finland, we are successfully continuing our unrivalled ramp-up cascade. After the lead plant in Rastatt and the Hungarian plant in Kecskemét, our production partner Valmet Automotive has started production of the new A-Class. Within a very short time, our production strategy has enabled us to master the third successful ramp-up of the new A-Class.“
Stuttgart, Germany / Uusikaupunki, Finland – The ramp-up for the new A-Class has reached Finland: it began in April at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Rastatt, Germany and was followed by the Mercedes-Benz plant in Kecskemét, Hungary in May. The production partner Valmet Automotive has started production of the new A-Class in its plant in Uusikaupunki, the third location in the global production network of Mercedes-Benz Cars, where the new A-Class is produced.
A short video on this subject can be found here: https://www.instagram.com/p/BlCu-PpgBCK/?hl=de&taken-by=daimler_ag
”With the ramp-up of the new A-Class in Uusikaupunki, Finland, we are successfully continuing our unrivalled ramp-up cascade. After the lead plant in Rastatt and the Hungarian plant in Kecskemét, our production partner Valmet Automotive has started production of the new A-Class. Within a very short time, our production strategy has enabled us to master the third successful ramp-up of the new A-Class,” says Markus Schäfer, Member of the Divisional Board of Mercedes-Benz Cars, Production and Supply Chain.
Mercedes-Benz is continuing its cooperation with Valmet Automotive with production of the new A-Class in Uusikaupunki, Finland. The previous generation of the A-Class has already been rolled off the assembly line there since 2013. In Uusikaupunki the A-Class is flexibly produced on the same line together with the Mercedes-Benz GLC.
Extensive conversion work was carried out at the Uusikaupunki plant for the ramp-up of the new A-Class in the body shop as well as in the paint shop and the assembly areas.
“We have focused on preparations to secure a fast launch and a high volume production run. We have also benefited from our experiences with the previous A-Class generation and the GLC,” says Pasi Rannus, Senior Vice President Manufacturing, Valmet Automotive.
The new A-Class is the first model in the fourth generation of compact cars, and replaces the preceding model produced since 2012. The family of compact cars currently comprises five models: A-Class, B-Class, CLA, CLA Shooting Brake, and GLA. An all-new sixth compact model was also recently presented at the trade fair in Beijing: The new long wheelbase A-Class saloon is specially designed to meet the needs of Chinese customers. The new compact car family is to be expanded to a total of eight models.
For the start of production of the A-Class, apprentices from the Rastatt plant produced a steering wheel model using modern additive production processes (3D printing). The steering wheel has a screen on which employees can upload messages for the next plant in the ramp-up cascade. The model is passed on from plant to plant like a baton. The Uusikaupunki team was delighted about the greetings from the colleagues in Kecskemét, and likewise prepared a message for the next plant in the start-up cascade. Before the end of this year, a new compact car model will start production in the joint venture COMPAS (Cooperation Manufacturing Plant Aguascalientes) plant in central Mexico.
Global production of the new Mercedes-Benz compact cars
The current compact car models are produced in a global production network. Rastatt in Germany is the lead plant for compact cars in the global production network of Mercedes-Benz Cars. The Rastatt plant controls the production as well as quality and supplier management on a global basis. It also supports smooth ramp-ups at the other plants by training their employees, for example. Alongside the Finnish production partner Valmet Automotive in Uusikaupunki, the Hungarian Mercedes-Benz plant in Kecskemét and Beijing-Benz Automotive Co. Ltd (BBAC) in China are part of the global compact car production network. In the near future, the joint venture production plant COMPAS (Cooperation Manufacturing Plant Aguascalientes) in central Mexico will expand the compact car production network of Mercedes-Benz Cars to five locations on three continents.
In the future the Hambach plant in France will also produce a compact Mercedes-Benz electric car under the new product and technology brand EQ, expending the compact car production network of Mercedes-Benz Cars to six sites on three continents. Alongside the lead plant in Rastatt and BBAC in Peking, Hambach is the third location in the global production network of Mercedes-Benz Cars where compact electric cars under the product and technology brand EQ will leave the production line in the future.
The new A-Class - benchmark in the compact class
The new A-Class celebrated its world premiere on February 2, 2018, and was presented to a wide audience for the first time at the Geneva Motor Show in March. It has been available for order already since March, and had its market launch in Europe in beginning of May.
The new A-Class is the first Mercedes-Benz model to feature the completely new MBUX multimedia system - Mercedes-Benz User Experience, which also ushers in a new era in Mercedes me connectivity. A unique feature of this system is its ability to learn thanks to artificial intelligence. MBUX can be customized if desired and adapts to the user. As a further option, it features intelligent voice control which is activated by the key phrase “Hey Mercedes”.
Despite its sporty look, the new A-Class has considerably more utility value, making it as youthful as ever but grown-up like never before. More shoulder, elbow and headroom plus easier access to the rear are clear benefits, as is the larger and more family and recreation-friendly luggage compartment. All-round visibility has also been considerably improved. This enhances both safety and the sense of spaciousness. The new A-Class has the very latest driving assistance systems with cooperative driver support, giving it the highest level of active safety in this segment with functions adopted from the S‑Class.
The new A-Class is not just filled with many innovations. It is also being produced in a really innovative way using modern technologies, which make the digital factory a fact. As of recently in Rastatt (Germany) and in Kecskemét and now in Uusikaupunki (Finland).
About Mercedes-Benz Cars Operations
Mercedes-Benz Cars Operations is responsible for passenger car production at over 30 locations around the world. Three of them are currently being established. Within a flexible and efficient production network with around 78,000 employees it includes the central functions of production planning, TECFACTORY, logistics, and quality. Mercedes-Benz Cars produced more than 2.4 million Mercedes-Benz and smart passenger cars last year, marking the seventh record in a row. The network is based on the product architectures of front-wheel drive (compact cars) and rear-wheel drive (for example the S-Class, E-Class, and C-Class) as well as the SUV and sports car architectures. In addition, there is a powertrain production compound (engines, transmissions, axles and components). Each of these production compounds is grouped around a lead plant that serves as a center of competence for the ramp-up of new products, technology and quality assurance. Mercedes-Benz Cars is ready for the electro mobility: Around the globe electro hubs are built for the production of electric vehicles and batteries. The focus of day-to-day work is on the continuous improvement and refinement of state-of-the-art production methods, which allow future high-tech vehicles to be produced in a way that is efficient, flexible and environmentally friendly, according to the typical Mercedes-Benz quality standards. All of this revolves around the employees and their expertise, whose work is systematically supported by ergonomic workplace design and intelligent automation. In addition to its own production plants, Mercedes-Benz is increasingly leveraging partnerships and utilizing capacities at contract manufacturers as part of its growth strategy.