Daimler AG’s Romanian subsidiary Star Transmission is to assemble the new Mercedes-Benz 9G-Tronic nine-speed automatic transmission from 2016.
The new assembly plant in Sebes, near Alba, following an investment of €300 million, will supplement the company’s production operations at the Mercedes-Benz Untertürkheim plant. Some 500 new jobs will be created.
Markus Schäfer, divisional board member Mercedes-Benz cars, production and supply chain management, said: “The new plant is also an important contributing factor in the economics and the flexibility of the Mercedes-Benz international production network. With this set-up we will successfully satisfy continued increases in demand for automatic transmissions."
"Within Mercedes-Benz' global production network for passenger cars the Untertürkheim engine and transmission plant serves as a centre of competence," said Peter Schabert, head of production powertrain and head of the Mercedes-Benz Untertürkheim plant. "From here the experienced production team has shared its know-how over several months with Romanian employees as part of a special qualification programme. Teamwork in the international powertrain team strengthens our competitiveness on a sustainable basis."
Automatic transmissions from Mercedes-Benz are manufactured at both the Mercedes-Benz Untertürkheim plant and within Star Transmission, with the 9G-TRONNIC transmission having been produced and assembled at the Untertürkheim parent plant since 2013.
Star Transmission plant in Cugir, south-west of Alba, was founded in 2001 and makes gearwheels, shafts as well as machined components for engines, transmissions and steering systems. Its technology centre handles both production of prototypes and acts as a training base.
The Sebes location began assembly of five-speed automatic transmissions last year, and followed that this year with the 7G-DCT dual-clutch transmissions to provide additional capacities beyond the manufacturing operations previously concentrated exclusively in Stuttgart.
The company now employs a total workforce of more than 1,200 people.
With aid from the Romanian government, Star Transmission is one of the first Romanian companies to offer a dual education system modelled after the German state of Baden-Wuerttemberg.
The aim of the dual education system is to offer young people in the Alba region a good career outlook while at the same time ensuring the development of young talents for Star Transmission.
Since last September the plant has been training young people in the technical professions, and to further improve working conditions for employees, Star Transmission has been offering a health programme.
The Mercedes-Benz cars powertrain production network comprises several locations in Germany, and is being expanded with international production sites as part of the Mercedes-Benz 2020 growth strategy alongside and increased production of Mercedes-Benz vehicles close to markets and customers.
The central location, the Mercedes-Benz Untertürkheim plant, manufactures engines, transmissions and axles at a total of six sub-plants. The Berlin plant manufactures engines and powertrain components while the Hamburg plant produces axles and various other components. The subsidiary MDC Power manufactures engines in Kölleda, Thuringia.
China last year saw the start-up of engine production for the Beijing Mercedes-Benz cars and vans manufacturing operations at BBAC, a joint venture between Daimler and Chinese partner BAIC.
This year in the US, Daimler and Nissan will begin joint production of four-cylinder gasoline engines based on Mercedes-Benz design at the Nissan plant in Decherd, Tennessee, as part of a strategic cooperation between Daimler and the Renault/Nissan alliance. Among others, the engines are destined for the future production of the C-Class at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
Daimler claims its 9G-Tronic automatic transmission is the world's first nine-speed automatic transmission with a torque converter. It is designed for premium vehicles. For example, the E 350 BlueTEC, available in saloon and estate versions, is equipped with the new transmission as standard behind the 185 kW (252 bhp) V6 diesel engine. It has an average NEDC fuel consumption of 5.3 l/100 km.
Meanwhile, Beijing Foton Daimler Automotive Co., Ltd. (BFDA), a 50-50 joint venture between Daimler and Chinese manufacturer Foton Motor, recently completed the 150,000th jointly-produced Auman branded trucks.
Since the first Auman truck rolled off the production line at its production facility in July 2012, the company has improved its position in the world’s largest truck market. In 2013, BFDA sold 103,300 units, equalling a 34 per cent year-on-year growth rate, the highest growth among China’s top five medium- and heavy-duty-truck manufacturers.
BFDA plans to expand its production footprint in China with construction of a new Mercedes-Benz heavy-duty engine plant targeted for later this year. The plant will make OM457 engines to be installed in other Auman products to further diversify BFDA’s product portfolio. ∎
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