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Feb 26, 2016
- The Mercedes-Benz plant in Sindelfingen has begun production of the world’s most intelligent business saloon, taking another important step along the road to accident-free and autonomous driving.
- Markus Schäfer, Member of the Divisional Board of Mercedes-Benz Cars, Production & Supply Chain Management: “In front of us stands the world’s most intelligent business saloon, built by the world’s best employees. Intelligent, innovative, packed with high tech – and premium quality. We are confident that our customers around the world are going to be impressed.”
- Michael Bauer, Site Manager Mercedes-Benz plant Sindelfingen: “The E-Class stands for everything that makes our plant the competence center for upper range and luxury-class vehicles: tradition, innovation and the drive to set standards among the world’s best.”
Sindelfingen – At the Mercedes-Benz plant Sindelfingen (Germany) series production of the new E-Class has begun. “Around two million cars roll off the production lines at our Mercedes-Benz plants every year. Each of these vehicles represents something special – but this one is unique: it is the first model of the new E-Class. In front of us stands the world’s most intelligent business saloon, built by the world’s best employees. Intelligent, innovative, packed with high tech – and premium quality. We are confident that our customers around the world are going to be impressed,” stated Markus Schäfer, Member of the Divisional Board of Mercedes-Benz Cars, Production & Supply Chain Management.
The new E-Class has a unique tradition. With a total of over 13 million E-Class Saloons and Estates sold, the E-Class is the best-selling vehicle in Mercedes-Benz history. To mark the official start of production, Mercedes-Benz gathered examples of the nine predecessor model series at the finishing line of the business saloon in Sindelfingen. “The start of series production in our 101st year continues the Sindelfingen success story,” stated Michael Bauer, Site Manager of the Mercedes-Benz Sindelfingen plant. “The E-Class stands for everything that makes our plant the competence center for upper range and luxury-class vehicles: tradition, innovation and the drive to set standards among the world’s best.”
Innovative digital technologies pave the way for series production
The new E-Class delivers stylish highlights with its distinct, emotive design and high-grade, exclusive interior. It also marks the world premiere of numerous technical innovations. They enable comfortable, safe driving on a new level plus a new dimension in driver assistance – among other things. The vehicle comes complete with infotainment and control systems offering an all-new experience. Highlights of the optional Driver Assistance package that make the E-Class the most intelligent saloon in its class include the DRIVE PILOT: this system represents Mercedes-Benz’ next step along the road to autonomous driving. As Distance Pilot DISTRONIC on motorways and country roads, it is not only able to keep the correct distance to vehicles in front automatically, for the first time it can also follow them at a speed of up to 210 km/h. This can make life easier for the driver, who no longer needs to operate the brake or accelerator pedal during normal driving and also receives plenty of effective steering assistance from the Steering Pilot – even on moderate bends. Another unique feature at speeds up to 130 km/h is the fact that, like in a swarm, the system can continue to intervene actively by taking account of surrounding vehicles and parallel structures, even if the lines are unclear or non-existent, like at road works. The system therefore makes driving much easier, especially in traffic jams or heavy congestion.
But it is not just in the vehicle itself that Mercedes-Benz makes use of innovative digital technologies. They are already used in an earlier stage of the product development and ensure an efficient production. For example, the production planning and scheduling team created a digital process chain which simulated the production process from the press plant to final assembly. For assembly alone, around 4,000 individual processes are examined for technical feasibility long before series production commences. One particularly noteworthy aspect here is virtual assembly: in a room equipped with special cameras, experienced employees fit virtual components to a digitally simulated vehicle. Carrying out this kind of testing with the avatar allows the team to assess how to best implement work processes long before actual production begins. In this respect, too, the latest E-Class is setting new standards.
Parade of automotive innovation champions to mark the start of series production
The plant marked the start of series production of its core product with an impressive parade of automotive innovation champions. The line-up featured one of each of the nine predecessor model series:
The 170 V model, the “original E-Class,” was the first post-war car from Mercedes-Benz: solid, comfortable and spacious.
The Mercedes-Benz 180 “Ponton” launched a new era as the first vehicle with a unibody construction and reduced drag and consumption with its ultra-modern all-enveloping bodywork.
The “Fintail” owed its name to its distinctive exterior. Mercedes-Benz fitted it with ground-breaking safety features developed by Béla Barényi, including the rigid passenger cell with crumple zones at the front and rear.
The “Stroke 8” was introduced in 1968, and with production figures topping 1.8 million models, it became the star brand’s first million seller. For the first time a coupé was introduced alongside the saloon. Further variety was added with the introduction of the world’s first five-cylinder diesel engine to feature in a series-produced car.
From 1976, the 123 model series offered even more variety with a broad engine line-up and the first factory-produced estate model. This model series was the most successful of the E-Class’ predecessors: around 2.7 million models were built.
Model series 124, introduced in 1984, was a pioneer in a whole range of respects: it had the first controlled three-way catalytic converter, a lightweight and aerodynamic construction which optimised consumption and performance, and innovative safety features such as the new independent multi-link suspension.
Customers of the mid-size model series, launched in 1995, benefited as standard from a design which won the “red dot” award with its twin-headlamp face, but also from a wealth of technical highlights such as the Electronic Traction System ETS, belt force limiters and, from 1999, the driving safety system ESP®.
In the following generation of the E-Class, innovations were introduced to further enhance safety and ride comfort, including adaptive front airbags and Sensotronic Brake Control for significantly shorter stopping distances. Natural gas drive was also introduced into series production, as was the clean BlueTEC diesel technology.
Leading the way in its segment in terms of safety, comfort and environmental compatibility, the 2009 E-Class featured a 30 percent more rigid body, new adaptive suspension and a unique combination of driver assistance systems, for example Blind Spot Assist, Lane Keeping Assist and Night View Assist.
About the Mercedes-Benz Sindelfingen plant
The Mercedes-Benz Sindelfingen plant is Daimler AG’s oldest established vehicle plant, and within the Mercedes-Benz Cars production network it is the competence center for upper range and luxury-class vehicles. It employs a workforce of over 25,000 and produces the Mercedes-Benz E-Class (Saloon and Estate), the CLS and the CLS Shooting Brake, the S-Class (Saloon, Coupé and Cabriolet), the Mercedes-Maybach and the Mercedes-AMG GT. Around 200 vehicles a day are delivered at the Mercedes-Benz customer centre in Sindelfingen.
About Mercedes-Benz Cars Operations
Mercedes-Benz Cars Operations is responsible for passenger car production at 26 locations around the world as part of a flexible and efficient production network involving round about 70,000 employees. This includes the central functions of planning, technology fabric, logistics, and quality. Mercedes-Benz Cars produced more than two million Mercedes-Benz and smart passenger cars last year, marking the fifth 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 network (engines, transmissions, axles and components). Each of these production networks is grouped around a lead plant that serves as a center of competence for the ramp-up of new products, technology and quality assurance. 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.