DOUGLAS A. BOLDUC
A Mercedes in half the time
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Daimler is determined to build its Mercedes-Benz and Smart cars in half the time it took just six years ago.
Back then, the average production time at the Daimler subsidiaries was 60 hours, excluding the powertrain.
"We want to decrease the hours per vehicle from 40 hours now to 30 hours by 2015," Daimler Chairman Dieter Zetsche said during the company's annual press conference on Thursday. "That will make us one of the leaders."
Company sources say that Mercedes' build time trails that of BMW and Audi. Reducing the hours it takes to make cars is part of Zetsche's aim to push No. 3 Mercedes ahead of second-ranked Audi and No. 1 BMW. He wants Mercedes to be the world's top-selling premium brand by 2020.
Zetsche said that Mercedes has slashed its average production time by making the assembly process more efficient. One part of that has been styling vehicles that are easier to assemble, which is known as design to manufacturing. Zetsche said the first models to benefit from this are the new C class as well as the S class, which will debut later this year. He declined to give specifics on the time it takes to produce either model compared with six years ago.
You can reach Douglas A. Bolduc at email@example.com.