Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Daimler starts CLA Shooting Brake in Hungary

Less than three years after its opening, Mercedes-Benz's youngest plant in Kecskemét, Hungary, has passed an important milestone with the official SOP (start of production) of the CLA Shooting Brake.

This is the second model to be exclusively produced in Kecskemét following the roll-off of the Mercedes-Benz CLA.

"The start of production of the new CLA Shooting Brake marks the fifth successful ramp-up for our new generation of compact cars in our global production network", claimed Markus Schäfer, member of the divisional board, Mercedes-Benz Cars, Manufacturing and Supply Chain Management. “Around 150,000 B-Class and CLA-Class vehicles were produced in Kecskemét last year, and 300,000 units have rolled off the line at the plant since it started production in 2012.”

“In this way, the Hungarian plant makes an important contribution to the growth of the compact car segment within the global production network of Mercedes-Benz Cars,” added Schäfer. “Unit sales rose by 24.7 per cent to 463,152 A-Class, B-Class, CLA-Class and GL-Class vehicles sold in 2014. Mercedes-Benz has never delivered so many compact vehicles to its customers in a single year.

“The CLA, which is produced exclusively in Kecskemét, has been very successful in its single most important market, the US, almost doubling unit sales to 27,000 vehicles in 2014,” continued Schäfer. “Overall, Mercedes-Benz sold more cars than ever before last year. The brand with the star delivered 1,650,010 vehicles to customers (a rise of 12.9 per cent), thus posting the fourth record year in a row.”

Investment in the Kecskemét plant to date is around €1 billion. After spending €800 million on the construction of the plant, the company has continued to develop the facility. Last year, in preparation for the production of the CLA Shooting Brake, much of the work involved recruiting and intensively training many new employees, which brought the workforce to almost 4,000 people by the end of 2014.

Mercedes-Benz premium compact cars share common front-wheel drive architecture and are produced in a flexible production network at Rastatt and Kecskemét plants.

The B-Class was the first of the new generation of products to begin production at both Rastatt (since September 2011) and Kecskemét (since March 2012).

The new A-Class has been made in Rastatt since July 2012, while the second product from Kecskemét was the CLA, production of which started in January 2013.

Production of the GLA compact SUV began at Rastatt in December 2013, whereas manufacture of the fifth new compact model, the CLA Shooting Brake, began at Kecskemét this month.

Rastatt has been operating on three shifts since October 2012 and Kecskemét since May 2014.

Mercedes-Benz managers claim all models can be produced in any order or volume at either location, which allows volumes to be distributed within the network depending on the current level of demand on the market.

Since August 2013, additional capacity has been available for A-Class through a manufacturing contract with Finnish low-volume specialist Valmet Automotive.

In addition, manufacture of GLA for China is due to start in the first half of this year at the Beijing production location of Beijing Benz Automotive Corporation (BBAC) – a joint venture between Daimler and its Chinese partner BAIC Motor.

The CLA Shooting Brake is initially available with two diesel engines, four gasoline engines and the all-wheel drive system 4MATIC. 

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