Cordes launches far-reaching changes at Mercedes

CEO targets production, development and logistics

Stuttgart, Germany. Eckhard Cordes, Mercedes car group CEO, is carrying out far-reaching changes in product development, production and logistics.

The changes are expected to significantly raise assembly and product quality and save at least 3 billion euros by 2007.

"We want to clearly be number one in image, quality and our rate of return," Cordes said.

The new course will have a big impact on the way Mercedes builds its cars.

"We will dramatically reduce the complexity of our assembly lines," Cordes told Automobilwoche.

Workers who now complete up to five tasks at a station will have a work span of just one minute.

This job configuration means production costs will substantially decline and assembly quality will go up, Cordes said.

"Downtime and waste will diminish," he added.

Cordes aims to achieve significant savings in logistics costs.

"In recent years, we have already achieved savings in double digits, and we see further potential," he said.

In development, Cordes is pushing for higher re-utilization rates for tried and tested components.

"We are going to investigate what we can standardize right through the Mercedes production series and what proven technologies can we adopt for new models," he said.

Besides reducing development times for new models, Cordes wants to trim development costs by five percent annually.

Cordes also is increasing pressure on suppliers to achieve higher production quality.

He is not ruling out changes in the supplier structure.

"No supplier is set with us for the long term. The need to strive to be the best also extends to our suppliers," he said.

Cordes said he also will reduce Mercedes' product lineup.

According to reports in Stuttgart, the C-class sport coupe will be killed in 2008.

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