FRANKFURT Dec 19 Mercedes-Benz will build a
long-wheelbase version of its new C-Class sedan for China, as
part of ambitious plans to roll out production of its biggest
selling model across four continents in six months, board member
Thomas Weber said on Thursday.
Daimler is preparing its factories in Germany, the United
States, China and South Africa to build the next generation
C-Class using a modular production system that allows it to
manufacture several different versions suited to local markets.
"In the past we built cars, today we develop generations of
models," the head of development at Mercedes-Benz Cars told
A station wagon and a limousine are planned when the car
hits markets next year in addition to other models which will
feature a new head-up display system and a multi-media system
operated by a touch-sensitive pad.
"There will be a long-wheelbase version for the specific
needs of Chinese clients. This car will be built in China,
exclusively for that market," Weber explained.
The successful launch of its next generation C-Class, which
accounts for about 30 percent of its car sales, forms a leading
part of the German auto maker's strategy to surpass rival BMW
to become the largest selling premium auto maker.
The new C-Class will be officially unveiled at the Detroit
auto show in January, replacing the current version which was
first launched in 2007. Thanks to improvements in production
methods, the new model takes less time to assemble.
"We have made a massive leap in terms of efficiency," Weber
said. "A key reason for efficiency gains is the architecture,"
Weber said, referring to the new rear-wheel modular platform
which will also be used to make the next generation E-Class
"We will raise production figures faster than we have in the
past," Weber said.
Thanks to increased use of aluminium, the newest generation
Mercedes C-Class will weigh some 100 kilos less than the current
generation, helping it to become around 20 percent more fuel
Mercedes-Benz plans to phase in production of the new model
in a seamless manner. In the past 12 months Mercedes-Benz made
316,000 C-Class models at its factory in Bremen because demand
for the current model is still high.
"The current C-class is selling well even in its final year,
and we aim to raise production further with the successor,"
Asked whether Daimler was considering production of engines
at a Renault-Nissan factory in Mexico, Weber said, "We have
already said that Mexico is of interest as a location for
production, but no final decisions have been taken."
(Reporting by Edward Taylor and Illona Wissenbach, editing by