Thursday, 19 November 2015

Daimler shifts V12 engine production

Production will start early next year at Daimler’s Mannheim, Germany, facility of Mercedes-AMG V12 engines.

The engines will be produced at a new location at Mannheim causing employees who currently assemble 12-cylinder engines at AMG’s headquarters in Affalterbach to be re-assigned to the eight-cylinder engine lines.

Daimler claims that because of strong demand” for its high-performance vehicles, Mercedes-AMG has been forced to relocate production to a position where there is more space.

However, Daimler claims that AMG’s traditional ‘one man, one engine’ philosophy will “continue to hold true”. That is, each AMG engine will be built completely by hand by just one engine fitter.

With employees currently building V12 engines in Affalterbach being retained, and not posted to Mannheim, suggests Daimler is implementing a substantial training scheme for ‘new’ employees of Mercedes AMG.

To implement its plan, Mercedes-AMG will use available capacity in Mannheim to expand its engine production.

Assembly of V12 biturbo engines begins in February 2016.

Claiming that existing production capacity at the Affalterbach facility is “fully utilised”, Tobias Moers, chairman of the board of management of Mercedes-AMG GmbH, said: “Supplying our customers as fast as possible is highly important to us. We do not have any possibilities for expansion in Affalterbach at present, so we have decided to transfer the assembly of the 12-cylinder engines to the Daimler site in Mannheim.”

In Affalterbach, production of V8 engines will be expanded in the space freed. The employees who have until now assembled V12 engines will work on V8 production. A separate assembly line will be set up in Mannheim for V12 engines from AMG. The site there will be renovated and prepared for the new requirements.

As is the case at the AMG site in Affalterbach (for production of V8 engines) and the Mercedes-Benz engine facility MDC Power in Kölleda, Thüringen (production of four-cylinder engines), each engine made in Mannheim will be assembled by just one mechanic.

Daimler says the modern layout in Mannheim will be adapted in terms of logistics and ergonomics to the AMG manufacturing principle of “one man, one engine.”

Each engine fitter vouches for quality and exclusivity with his or her signature, which is displayed on a plate affixed to the engine. The company claims that already highly qualified employees from Mannheim have been trained for their new tasks for several weeks in Affalterbach.

However, V12 engines will continue to be developed at AMG headquarters in Affalterbach. They are used in the high-performance Mercedes-AMG S 65, S 65 Coupé, G 65 and SL 65 models.

                                  Implications for Aston Martin?

With these undergoing manufacturing redevelopments, it is worth bearing in mind that it is two years since Aston Martin in the UK announced a deal with Mercedes-AMG to work on powertrain development. As part of that deal, Daimler took a five per cent stake in the UK company headquartered at Gaydon, Warwickshire.

So, is the relocation of V12 production part of that deal? And does it have long-term implications for Aston Martin? It is said that Aston Martin has plans to continue development of its own V12 engine whilst offering performance parameters for an AMG V8 to engineers at Affalterbach. This suggests that with its increased capacity and manning levels, Affalterbach will certainly be able to accommodate Aston’s V8 demands.

But will the Aston Martin V12 engine survive? There are of course those who would argue that the Aston Martin brand cannot be taken seriously if the UK-based company did not produce its own engine.

However, some people somewhere know exactly what the Aston V12 engine costs to manufacture – and further develop, including no doubt overheads; just as there are those who know how much an AMG V12 costs to manufacture and develop. - and overheads Those two numbers for total engine costs – and the volumes attached thereto could be very enlightening.

Daimler’s financial people will have their own ideas as to where savings can be made in the UK business in which the German company has a stake. Is the V12 one of them?

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