MULHOUSE, France - While most automakers are overhauling production and cutting the number of suppliers for new models, PSA/Peugeot-Citroen is changing little for the new 206.
The new small car is produced at PSA's assembly plant here. The 106 now built at Mulhouse will be moved to PSA's Aulnay, France, plant when the 206 hits peak production of 1,500 per day later this year.
There are no major changes to the body-in-white and paint operations installed for the 106, nor in the way the company works with suppliers, said Denis Duchesne, plant manager at Mulhouse.
But assembly time on the trim line has been reduced by 10-15 percent to about six hours. Peugeot attributes that to a program that evaluates parts for ease of assembly.
Previously only about a third of components had been scored for manufacturability. But all 206 components were tested. Modifications to some parts raised quality and reduced assembly time. Duchesne said the new 206 will surpass the outgoing 106's quality levels when full production is reached.
The level of vertical integration is virtually unchanged. Neither has Peugeot tried to integrate suppliers more by setting up supplier parks or inviting suppliers to start operations inside the Mulhouse plant.
Mulhouse still assembles its own seats in-house. Peugeot employs 440 people at the plant to cut, sew and assemble seats for both the 106 and the 206.
The 206's major new module is the front-end assembly, though Peugeot cars built in other plants have used similar modules.
The Mulhouse operation reflects the philosophy of former PSA Chairman Jacques Calvet, who was outspoken against the reduction in the number of suppliers. Calvet was replaced by Jean-Martin Folz, who has said that PSA will use fewer suppliers on future car projects.
'Supplier numbers are critical here,' said Folz recently. 'We have changed substantially our policy and are decreasing numbers to a few hundred suppliers.
Production of the 206 started on
2 May and reached 500 units a day in early June. Output will rise by 100 units each week until the August shutdown. Full production of 1,500 a day will be reached in November.
The 206 will also be assembled at Ryton, UK, at a rate of 500-600 a day. Production of the new model will start there in early July, and will switch over fully to the new model after the August holiday.
The 206 project, code-named T1, will go from project approval to its September market launch in 196 weeks. The design was fixed six months after project approval.
The project took 34 months on one conventional measure of development time - from design freeze to start of production.
However, Frederic Saint-Geours, managing director of Automobiles Peugeot, said PSA aims to cut that by almost 25 percent to 156 weeks on future projects.
Ian Morton contributed