Automotive Purchasing Weekly 15 December 2014 - page 14

Mercedes-Benz reaches500,000
productionmark inChina
Dec 9, 2014 | General
The German carmaker’s recent milestone
highlights the automotive industry’s rapid
expansion in China.
Mercedes-Benz
announced
the
production of the 500,000 Mercedes-Benz
passenger cars in China.
The 500,000th car, an all-new long-
wheelbase C-Class model has rolled off the
production lines at Daimler’s Sino-German
production joint-venture Beijing Benz
Automotive (BBAC). This marks yet another
milestone in Mercedes-Benz’s increasing
local footprint in China.
An interesting point to note would be
that about half of these vehicles have
been manufactured just within the last two
years, highlighting the rapid growth that the
production site has recently experienced.
Hubertus Troska, Member of the Board of
Management of Daimler AG responsible for
Greater China, said: “Continuous investment
in localisation is one of our key growth
drivers for Mercedes-Benz’s future in China,
and it is clear proof of our confidence in and
dedication to this strategically important
market.”
“Going forward, we are determined to pick
up the pace even more as we just signed a
€1 billion agreement with our partner for the
localisation of further compact car models.
BBAC is undoubtedly on its path to become
the largest Mercedes-Benz passenger car
plant worldwide.”
BBAC is a joint venture between Daimler
and its Chinese partner BAIC Motor. The
carmaker has produced Mercedes-Benz
since 2006 and engines since 2013. Last
year, around 120,000 vehicles rolled off the
Beijing-based production lines, accounting
for approximately one-half of Mercedes-
Benz’s total sales volume in China.
This figure is expected to grow significantly
by the end of next year, based on production
capacities reaching well beyond 200,000
units. The constant growth of BBAC is backed
by strong funding: the two shareholders are
jointly investing €4 billion ($4.95 billion) in
the company through 2015.
About €400 million has been spent solely
on the first ever Mercedes-Benz passenger
car engine plant outside of Germany.
Inaugurated about a year ago, it marks
another important milestone in Mercedes-
Benz’s localisation strategy.
“Built in China, for China - this philosophy
has been the vital driving factor of our
success in the past, and will continue to be
so in the future. Reaching the half million
mark is just our latest achievement, and we
certainly won’t stop there,” explains Frank
Deiss, President and CEO of BBAC.
“Obviously we have followed, as part
of Mercedes-Benz’s global production
network, our worldwide acknowledged
standards and processes for each and every
one of these units, to deliver our customers
the best products.”
RHApressesUKgovernment
for training funds
Dec 9, 2014 | General
The Road Haulage Association (RHA) is
demanding that the Chancellor of the
Exchequer invests more funds to support
companies in encouraging more lorry
drivers.
Following Chancellor of the Exchequer
George Osborne‘s Autumn Statement, UK’s
Road Haulage Association is extremely
upset with the lack of funding and is actively
pressing for further talks with government
aimed at boosting funding for firms to get
more people licenced and qualified to drive
heavy goods vehicles.
In a letter to Chancellor George Osborne
asking for an urgent meeting, Road Haulage
Association Chief Executive Richard Burnett
has again highlighted the growing threat
to UK economic growth of a worsening
shortage of drivers and an increasing
reliance on drivers from abroad.
“Government is failing this industry and
the economy and urgent action is needed
from the Treasury. An opportunity to lead
transformative change was missed in the
Autumn Statement, which ignored the our
strongly-supported case for funding for
companies. But the analysis that the RHA
set out remains valid and the problem of a
worsening driver shortage is not going to go
away, Burnett has told the Chancellor.
“We support the Chancellor’s objectives
set out in his Autumn Statement – but the
economy needs to have enough lorry drivers
if he is going to deliver,” Burnett says. “Right
now, we are 45,000 drivers short. If the issue
is not urgently addressed, in 12 months’ time
that figure will increase to 60,000. If the UK
doesn’t have enough people able to drive
the lorries that keep the economy moving,
the economy will grind to a halt.”
14
15 December 2014
automotive purchasing weekly
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Fivedecadesandstill goingstrong
Dec 9, 2014 | General
Vauxhall’s Ellesmere Port factory celebrated
a new milestone today. The Cheshire-based
plant reached the five million mark.
After completing half a century of
producing Vauxhall cars, the carmaker’s
Ellesmere Port plant has announced that it
reached the five million landmark today.
News of the landmark car will be an extra
boost for the near-1,800 workforce at EP,
who build a new car every two minutes, and
is currently gearing up for production of an
all-new Astra later in 2015.
The plant will be taking the lead in Europe
in manufacturing the new Astra, and will be
taking on an additional 300 staff next month
as part of a £140 million investment by parent
General Motors, which will secure the plant’s
future into the middle of next decade.
Vauxhall started building its compact cars
at the Cheshire plant in 1964, and has been
responsible for all Viva models (a nameplate
that’ll return to the brand next year), the
Chevette and all six Astra models from 1982.
In all, an average of 100,000 units has left
the plant in each of the last 50 years.
In 1964, when the first Viva HA rolled
off the line, Ellesmere’s workforce was as
passionate and skilled as it is today, but one
employee – known simply as ‘Ellesmere
Pete’ – developed a finely-honed test
process, which is now used as a rubber-
stamp by the factory on all the vehicles it
makes.
Pete works during the plant’s downtime,
and uses EP’s vast Body Shop to put
randomly selected Astras through a variety
of tough tests. Suspension components are
only signed off after Pete has jettisoned
an Astra into mid-air and had it land safely,
while steering geometry is analysed by
completing a half-circuit of the body-shop
on two wheels.
But while theprocess has always remained
the same, from the earliest Viva HA’s right
through to modern day, Pete admits to some
favourite test-drives around the plant. “The
Firenza Droopsnoot was a cracker. It had
so much poke that the biggest challenge
was not clipping some of the machinery as
you drifted it between production lines. And
when I got my hands on the first Astra GTE
back in ’82, it was by far the fastest thing
I’d put through the stillage-chicane in Body
Shop. I could hit 60 on a good day,” he said.
Ellesmere Port’s current Plant Director,
Stefan Fesser, was sceptical about the
testing when he arrived in 2013. “Of course,
Ellesmere Pete is a legend in GM circles, but
I wasn’t convinced until I saw the breadth
of his high-speed testing in the plant, and
the detailed reports he generates. And you
know what? After fifty years, he still does a
fantastic job of validating the great quality
that comes with every car we produce. Long
may he continue.”
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