MERCEDES-BENZ STARTS PRODUCTION OF NEW LONG-WHEELBASE E-CLASS IN CHINA

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  • Third generation of the E-Class model tailor-made for China rolls off the line at the joint venture Beijing Benz Automotive Co., Ltd.
  • Milestone marks successful beginning of the second decade of the Sino-German cooperation between Daimler and BAIC
  • Hubertus Troska: “Sustainable growth in the world's largest car market calls for products ‘Made in China, for China’. "
  • Markus Schäfer: “With the start of production of the new E-Class we are consistently pursuing our global growth strategy."
  • Peter Schabert: “With the production of front- and rear- wheel-drive vehicles as well as engines, our team in Beijing shows its vast know-how while demonstrating its flexibility."

Beijing – Production of the long-wheelbase version of the all new Mercedes-Benz E-Class in China has started. The vehicles are flexibly manufactured at the Chinese joint venture Beijing Benz Automotive Co., Ltd. (BBAC) on the same line as the Mercedes-Benz C-Class. The previous model had been locally produced at BBAC since 2010. “Sustainable growth in the world's largest car market calls for products ‘Made in China, for China’. The new long-wheelbase version of the E-Class is the third generation to be produced by BBAC. It is precisely tailored to Chinese customers and was to a major extent developed in China,” says Hubertus Troska, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG, responsible for Greater China.

The production start of the all new E-Class is another milestone in the Sino-German cooperation between Daimler and BAIC. The joint venture BBAC successfully commemorated its tenth anniversary in 2015. Earlier this week, the partners announced to invest RMB 4 billion (more than €500 million) in the further expansion of the Beijing-based BBAC engine plant.

In 2015, the Chinese joint venture BBAC produced around 250,000 vehicles including the long-wheelbase version of the E-Class as well as the C-Class, GLA and GLC. “The plant in Beijing is a key element in the flexible and efficient production network of Mercedes-Benz Cars. With the start of production of the new E-Class we are consistently pursuing our global growth strategy,” says Markus Schäfer, Member of the Divisional Board of Management Mercedes-Benz Cars, Production and Supply Chain Management.

Each stage of production at BBAC reflects the same global Mercedes-Benz quality standards as apply to the entire value chain. A contributory factor to this is the ongoing transfer of knowledge between the competence centre for luxury-class cars in Sindelfingen, Germany, and the colleagues in Beijing. During the initial phase, the start of production is being assisted by members of staff from Sindelfingen. The increasing trend towards customised vehicle manufacturing is demonstrated in the assembly of the E-Class. Numerous equipment variants as well as safety and assistance systems mean that every vehicle running off the production line in Beijing is unique. The engines for the new E-Class are also being produced at the BBAC plant.

Peter Schabert, President and CEO of BBAC, says: “With the production of front- and rear-wheel-drive vehicles as well as engines, our team in Beijing shows its vast know-how while demonstrating its flexibility. In terms of surface area, BBAC is already the largest Mercedes-Benz car plant in the world and we are ideally placed for further growth.”

All new E-Class marks milestone in autonomous driving

The all new E-Class marks the serial production of numerous pioneering intelligent concepts, making it a milestone on the road towards fully autonomous driving. For example, the DRIVE PILOT can automatically keep the correct distance to vehicles in front and follow them in a speed range up to 210 km/h, whilst being able to provide considerable support to the driver with steering. Furthermore, the vehicle helps the driver to brake or even change lanes automatically.

The long-wheelbase version of the new E-Class “Made in China, for China” also offers an even more spacious rear compartment with a first-class character. It exceeds the globally marketed E-Class sedan in both wheelbase (3079 millimeters) and length (5063 millimeters) by 140 millimeters. The rear compartment of the five-seater offers its occupants an extra 134 millimeters of legroom. The sedan is frequently used in China as a chauffeur-driven vehicle, as customers value the longer footwell. The increased legroom also facilitates passenger entry and exit.

In recent years, an average of one customer in three opting in China for a new long-wheelbase E-Class was previously the owner of a vehicle from a different manufacturer. A total of 232,453 units of the E-Class saloon and estate model were sold worldwide in 2015. With overall 13 million units sold globally, the E-Class is the best-selling vehicle for Mercedes-Benz. With its launch in autumn 2016, the new long-wheelbase version is expected to become a growth driver for Mercedes-Benz in China.

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

Beijing Benz Automotive Co., Ltd. (BBAC), a joint venture between Daimler and Chinese partner BAIC Motor, has been producing Mercedes-Benz passenger cars since 2005 and engines since 2013. In 2015, over two-thirds of the Mercedes-Benz vehicles sold in China were made in the country. Thanks to the great success of the locally built long-wheelbase E-Class, C-Class, GLA and GLC, BBAC's total local production output has passed the 700,000 units mark.

The Mercedes-Benz 4- and 6-cylinder engines produced by BBAC are used in the cars manufactured by BBAC as well as in vans made by the local Daimler joint venture Fujian Benz Automotive Co., Ltd. (FBAC). The BBAC production line is flexibly designed. Around 250,000 engines were produced in 2015. Higher numbers are planned in line with the ongoing growth in passenger car sales. In terms of land size, BBAC is the largest Mercedes-Benz passenger cars plant worldwide.

BBAC's research and development center went into operation in 2014. It is the largest of its kind at a Daimler joint venture anywhere in the world. In addition to carrying out standard-production projects as well as component and vehicle testing, over 500 engineers assist with production tests – in cross-functional teams and with a focus on locally produced vehicles. The center is home to numerous test laboratories and test benches. It is also where specialists can carry out off-line testing for homologation, training and installation tests.

BBAC is part of Mercedes-Benz's flexible and efficient global production network with over 78,000 employees. 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.

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