Following on Mercedes-Benz’s rich heritage of over 6 decades in South Africa, the East London Plant has officially started production of the new generation C-Class. Since the investment announcement of R10 billion in 2018, the East London Plant has undergone numerous plant upgrades in preparation for the production of the new model. At an event commemorating the start of production of the new generation C-Class on 24 June 2021, Mercedes-Benz Cars announced an additional R3 billion investment into the East London plant.
Jörg Burzer, Member of the Board of Mercedes-Benz Cars, responsible for Production and Supply Chain Management said: “South Africa is an important location in our global Mercedes-Benz production network. The team in East London made a remarkable contribution to the international ramp-up of the new C-Class that we produce through efficient, flexible, digital and sustainable operations. Thanks to the exceptional work of our colleagues in South Africa and all over the world and their first-class cooperation, our modern plants are able to produce outstanding vehicles like the new C-Class. With our additional invest of R3 billion in the East London plant, we underline our commitment to contributing to the South African economy and the Eastern Cape region.”
R10 billion investment – East London plant upgrades
Since the investment announcement in 2018, the R10 billion investment was utilised for a wide modernisation of the East London plant. The plant upgrades include a new body shop, which has been designed for higher capacities and features more than 500 Internet of Things Industry 4.0-enabled robots. To allow the East London plant to increase volume outputs, optimise the assembly line and achieve commercial synergies, a new body shop has been built at the East London Industrial Development Zone (ELIDZ), where vehicle parts for the new generation C-Class are manufactured.
More than 700 tons of steel have been installed for the additional three lines in the assembly shop and a new logistics warehouse. Utilising new methods such as art application technology, the new paint shop is now even more energy efficient and more environmentally-friendly. Overall, the new buildings comprise an area of approximately 100 000m². This reflects an addition of two thirds of the already existing buildings for the passenger vehicle production. At the Mercedes-Benz Learning Academy, additional robotics were installed for training.
Commenting on the successful ramp up CEO of Mercedes-Benz South Africa and Executive Director of Manufacturing, Andreas Engling stated: “Despite a tough year in 2020, we were able to accomplish what we had planned. To date, all of our buildings are complete and we are ready for the production of the new generation C-Class in full force. At Mercedes-Benz South Africa, our passion drives us to be the best and it is this passion, which drives our high-performance culture.”