KECSKEMET, Hungary – Mercedes-Benz is restructuring its global production network to cut the average production time for its models to 30 hours by 2015 from 43 in 2008.
"We have increased productivity by 2 percent a year over the last few years. We will be accelerating our productivity efforts," Mercedes production boss Wolfgang Bernhard said during an investor conference that was part of the automaker's plant opening here today.
A key part of the restructuring is that Mercedes will halve its vehicle architectures to two by 2015 but will double its number of model variants to 30.
"This will be a major enabler," Bernhard said.
The Mercedes Front Wheel Architecture (MFA) will be for compact cars such as the A class and B class and will be used at factories in Rastatt, Germany; Kecskemet, Hungary; and Beijing.
The Mercedes Rear Wheel Architecture (MRA) will cover the rest of the automaker's lineup and will be used at plants in Bremen and Sindelfingen, Germany; Vance, Alabama, USA; and East London, South Africa.
Currently, Mercedes has four architectures: rear-, front- and all-wheel drive as well as one for sports cars. This count excludes the platform used for the 33-year-old G class SUV made in Graz, Austria, by contract manufacturer Magna Steyr. In 1995, Daimler had 15 car platforms.
"In 2020, we believe that more than 50 percent of [Mercedes's] assembly capacity will be outside Europe," Bernhard said. That's up from 10 percent in 2010.
He added that at least 40 percent of the automaker's powertrain making capacity would be outside of Germany by 2020.
Almost all of Mercedes's powertrain plants are in Germany now.
Said Bernhard: "We will be more flexible."