DaimlerChrysler's supplier base for the new Mercedes-Benz CL luxury coupe is smaller than for the S-class, with a higher degree of interior parts integration.
For example Draexlmaier, the family owned German wiring and interior specialist based in Vilsbiburg, supplies the wood inner door panel as well as the dashboard and the wiring for the vehicle. The wood trim capability was added because Draexlmaier bought the former D/C subsidiary Holzindus-trie Bruchsal GmbH in January 1998.
The CL is based on the platform of the S-class - although only about 30 percent of the parts are common with the S-class.
Although DaimlerChrysler set new production targets for each supplier, no more development work was outsourced than normal. Project manager Wolf-Dieter Kurz said DaimlerChrysler's close involvement in the systems development of the car gave it an advantage. In particular, he said it would be some time before a competitor could offer a similar active body control (ABC) system on a production car - because Mercedes-Benz integrated the system itself.
'We will be first to market for a longer period than usual,' he said.
Within DaimlerChrysler's Sindel-fingen plant, production of the CL has been separated from the S-class line. Part of the reason is that equipment levels on the CL - which is only offered as a CL500 or CL600 - are generally higher than S-class equipment levels. For example the V-6 and diesel engines are only fitted to the S-class, not the CL.
In addition, the low volumes of up to 10,000 units a year mean that the production line is relatively short, with cycle times on each station of between 20-30 minutes. Production has been set up on a former pilot production line. 'All the people working on the new CL are very well trained in start-up situations,' said Kurz.
Production began in mid-June, and full production will be reached at the end of 1999.
Sales started in Europe on October 9, and US sales will begin at the end of the year.
DaimlerChrysler plans to double sales of the CL following the launch of the new-generation model over the next few weeks.
Between 1992 and 1998, 26,000 of the outgoing CL model were sold.
See Intro 2000 story, Page 7