Production line at Mercedes-Benz plant

Production line at Mercedes-Benz plant

Mercedes-Benz is embarking on a wide-ranging growth strategy that it hopes will see it reclaim the number one position in the premium segment by the end of the decade.

The strategy calls for Mercedes to occupy the number one position in the premium segment not only in terms of brand, products and profitability, but also of unit sales.

All efforts at Mercedes’ facilities across the globe are being made to achieve those four goals, with no stone being left unturned.

That means that in addition to the launch of several new models, including 10 new derivatives by 2015 for which no predecessor models exist, Mercedes is also looking to boost efficiencies throughout its operations.

The information was revealed by the automaker’s production chief Wolfgang Bernhard during a recent investor conference, reports Automotive News Europe (subscription required).

Some of the areas Mercedes will improve on include the average time it takes to build one of its cars, which is expected to be reduced to around 30 hours by the middle of the decade. As recently as 2008 it took an average 43 hours to build a new Mercedes-Benz.

Another area is the number of platforms used. Currently, Mercedes employs four separate platforms for its global lineup of cars, not including the unique unit used for the G Class SUV manufactured in Austria by independent vehicle manufacturer Magna Steyr. Those four platforms consist of a front-wheel drive design, a rear-wheel drive design, an all-wheel drive design and a sports car-specific design.

In future, Mercedes will only use two platforms, explained Bernhard. These will be the new Front Wheel Architecture (MFA), used for small cars and featured already in the third-generation A Class and B Class models, as well as a flexible Mercedes Rear Wheel Architecture (MRA) that will cover the rest of Mercedes’ lineup and will debut later this year in the next-generation S Class.

Finally, Bernhard said that more production will take place outside of Europe. Currently, 90 percent of Mercedes’ lineup is built in Europe and almost of all its engines are. By 2020, only 50 percent of its lineup will be built in Europe and around 60 percent of its engines. Key areas for increased production will be the NAFTA region and China. On top of this, there will also be greater co-operation with partners such as Renault-Nissan.