Mercedes-Benz is expanding E-class production capacity to meet rising demnd as it adds model variations.
DaimlerChrysler's luxury brand outsourced some E-class assembly starting last month to Magna Steyr in Graz, Austria. The E-class body shop at the Sindelfingen, Germany, plant is already working three shifts to supply assembly lines there and in Graz, but Mercedes is negotiating with labor unions about adding additional shifts, said Detlef Denker, body shop manager.
Mercedes-Benz plans to increase E-class production from 200,000 to 250,000 units this year. Production started last month on the E-class station wagon at Sindelfingen, about a year after the first E-class sedans. Production of all-wheel-drive 4matic sedans and station wagons will start at Graz in mid-summer.
Building enough station wagons within two months for a planned March sales introduction is a challenge, Denker said. But the sedan production ramp-up from Job One to full speed took only 15 weeks, he noted.
For the new-generation E class, E1.2 billion was invested to upgrade Sindelfingen production equipment, including E310 million for a completely new E-class body shop. Mercedes made several changes in the manufacturing process from the previous-generation E class.