The start of the new A-Class at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Rastatt, 90 km west of Stuttgart in Germany, is the trigger for the production of the new generation of compact cars in five plants on three continents. Starting the serial production, Markus Schäfer, Member of the Divisional Board of Mercedes-Benz Cars, Production & Supply Chain, drove the first vehicle off the assembly line in Rastatt. Symbolically he focused the next A-Class plant: With the infotainment system MBUX and the What3Words address, he headed for the Kecskemét plant in Hungary: The address ‘empires-astronaut-handshake’ is leading exactly to the end of the production line, where the first A-Class “Made at the Mercedes-Benz Kecskemét plant” will roll off in just a few weeks.
The new A-Class is the first model of the fourth generation of compact cars and replaces the predecessor model produced since 2012. The compact car family currently consists of five models: A-, B-Class, CLA, CLA Shooting Brake and GLA. In future there will be eight models.
First new A-Class rolls off the production line in Rastatt
Rastatt in Germany is the lead plant for compact cars in the global production network of Mercedes-Benz Cars. The plant is responsible for control and planning as well as quality and supplier management on a global basis. In addition, Rastatt coordinates production in the compact car production network at the Kecskemét plant in Hungary, at Beijing-Benz Automotive Co. Ltd (BBAC) in China and at the Finnish production partner Valmet Automotive in Uusikaupunki. In future, the joint venture production plant COMPAS (Cooperation Manufacturing Plant Aguascalientes) in Aguascalientes in Central Mexico will expand the global compact car production network of Mercedes-Benz Cars. The production of the A-Class in Kecskemét and at Valmet Automotive will start in the second quarter of 2018. The Rastatt plant supports the smooth ramp-up in the other plants, for example by qualifying employees and technical experts on site.
For the start of production of the A-Class, apprentices from the Rastatt plant produced a steering wheel model using modern additive production processes (3D printing). The steering wheel has a screen on which employees can upload messages for the next plant in the ramp-up cascade. The steering wheel is passed on from plant to plant like a baton and thus travels once around the whole world.
The ramp-up of the new A-Class sets a new milestone at the Rastatt location. It is now the fourth generation of compact cars rolling off the production line in Rastatt. More than 4.7 million cars have been produced in Rastatt since 1992. The first Mercedes-Benz A-Class was produced at the Rastatt plant in 1997 and started the success story of the compact cars at Mercedes-Benz.
Extensive construction work was part of the preparations for the new compact car generation. For example, two body-in-white shops have been expanded to over 50,000 m2. The construction of additional production areas was necessary to continue the preceding generation of the A-Class as well as the B-Class and the GLA without interruption until the start of the new vehicle generation. The new space will also be needed in the future for the production of the new models at the site. In the future, this will also include compact electric vehicles of the product and technology brand EQ.
The new training centre at the Rastatt plant is a central qualification area for all compact car factories. There, up to 240 employees can train simultaneously. They then pass on what they have learned to their colleagues at the site and in the other compact car plants.
Source : Mercedes-Benz