The Mercedes-Benz Sindelfingen plant will produce electric vehicles in the new electric EQ brand (earlier post), according to an agreement the company and works council have signed after intensive negotiations. Mercedes-Benz earlier announced that its Bremen plant will build the first production EQ model by the end of this decade. (Earlier post.)
The new generation of electric vehicles will be based on a scalable architecture developed specifically for battery-electric models; it is suitable for all model series as well as sub-models, such as SUVs, saloons and coupés. Wheelbase and track are variable.
The Sindelfingen site plays an important role in the electric offensive of Mercedes-Benz Cars and is being advanced into a competence center for EV of the upper range and luxury class.—Markus Schäfer, Member of the Divisional Board of Mercedes-Benz Cars, Production and Supply Chain Management
Mercedes-Benz’ three German car plants Bremen, Rastatt and Sindelfingen will all play a key role for electric mobility in the global production network. Since April 2014, the B-Class Electric Drive has been produced at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Rastatt on the same line as vehicles with combustion engines.
Mercedes-Benz Cars is setting the strategic course for the production of electric vehicles within the global production network. In this way, we are taking advantage of the opportunities offered by electric mobility and are significantly limiting the required investment. We have invested worldwide at an early stage in flexibility and technical equipment with groundbreaking Industry 4.0 solutions. With our plants in Bremen, Rastatt and Sindelfingen as well as the smart plant in Hambach, France, we now have four competence centers for the production of electric vehicles.—Markus Schäfer, Member of the Divisional Board of Management of Mercedes-Benz Cars, Production and Supply Chain Management
The new EQ EVs are to be integrated into normal series production as additional drive versions at the existing plants. Innovative and future-oriented production technology places new requirements on the employees, for which they are receiving intensive training. Special qualification programs are planned, for example in the area of high-voltage technology under production conditions. Junior management staff members are also being prepared in their training for working with the technologies of the future.
To further improve workforce flexibility and increase efficiency in production, the company and the Sindelfingen works council decided to create innovative working schemes. A comprehensive qualification program will prepare employees for the integration of new electric vehicles in series production. In addition, the employment of 125 temporary workers has been extended for another year.
EQ and CASE. Mercedes-Benz Cars is consolidating all activities in connection with electric mobility under the new product brand EQ, and the Concept EQ gives a clear outlook onto a completely new generation of vehicles. Mercedes-Benz Cars plans to launch more than ten electric vehicles by 2025: in all segments from smart to large SUVs. The company assumes that the proportion of electric vehicles in the total unit sales of Mercedes-Benz will be between 15 and 25 percent. This is dependent on on the development of infrastructure and client preferences.The EQ product brand is an basic component of the corporate strategy for the mobility of the future, which is summarized under the acronym CASE. The four letters stand for the strategic pillars of connectivity, autonomous driving, flexible use and electric drive, which Daimler is systematically developing and intelligently linking. (Earlier post.)
The Mercedes-Benz Sindelfingen plant is the most traditional vehicle plant of Daimler and the center of excellence for passenger cars of the upper range and luxury class in the global production network of Mercedes-Benz Cars. Together with the central production organization for Mercedes-Benz Cars, the plant employs more than 25,000 people. Mercedes-Benz manufactures the E-Class (sedan and T-model), the CLS and the CLS Shooting Brake, the S-Class (sedan, coupe and convertible), the Mercedes-Maybach and the Mercedes-AMG GT at the site. In Sindelfingen’s Mercedes-Benz customer center, around 200 vehicles are delivered every day.
The agreement between the company and the works council further allocates the production of the next generation E-Class to the Sindelfingen plant. In this context, Sindelfingen will be appointed as lead plant for the S- and E-Class production within the global production network of Mercedes-Benz Cars.
TecFactory and Electric Integration Center (EIC). In order to play a leading role with future products and production technologies, Mercedes-Benz has established the TecFactory to link up its departments for design, development, procurement, sales, and production. The various departments cooperate closely already at a very early stage of product development. A major role is played by thorough digitization: It creates the right conditions for highly flexible production and the increasing individualization of cars in accordance with customers’ wishes. In the context of Industry 4.0 and the smart factory, all Mercedes-Benz plants are connected with each other, allowing central access to data and process control.
Another joint initiative of production and development is the new Electric/Electronic Integration Center (EIC). The goal here is to prepare the electric/electronic architecture of Mercedes-Benz vehicles for future challenges arising from electric drive, connected vehicles, autonomous driving and flexible usage concepts. For this purpose, mixed teams will move into the EIC, which is to be located at the Sindelfingen site.
With the digital change and the orientation towards future technologies, the working culture in production will also change. The diversity of vehicle versions due to the various drivetrain technologies will require a highly flexible production system focused on humans with their tactile and cognitive abilities. Mercedes-Benz plans that through intelligent human-robot cooperation, the degree of automation will be reduced and workplaces in production will be ergonomically optimized.