Production of the new C-Class has started at Mercedes-Benz South Africa’s (MBSA’s) East London plant, and will slowly ramp up to full capacity during the year.
The new C-Class was unveiled at the North American International Auto Show, held in Detroit, earlier this month.
The new C-Class brings with it some changes for MBSA’s operations at the Eastern Cape plant.
Exports from the South African plant will no longer go to the US, as was the case with the previous C-Class model, as that country now has its own C-Class plant.
East London production will go to Europe, Japan, Australia and some Asian markets instead.
Production of the new model will also increase from the current 250 units a day to 420 units a day.
The new C-Class is set for introduction onto the South African market in June.
Moving from the old C-Class to the new model requires extensive preparation and training, notes MBSA spokesperson Jeanette Clark in response to a question from Engineering News.
“Towards the end of 2013, MBSA commenced the preproduction phase of its model changeover plan. “Extensive infrastructure and equipment changes being made to the production facility in the months ahead include the introduction of new technologies. “An intensive training period will run concurrently with this process of facility preparation to prepare the workforce for the advanced technology that will be implemented.
“We anticipate that the official start of production will commence in the middle of the second quarter, with the start of exports to follow later in the second quarter.”
The C-Class has been the German carmaker’s best-selling global model for several years. More than 2.2-million vehicles of the current series have been sold since its introduction in 2007.
The C-Class range topped the midluxury segment in South Africa in 2013, while also reaching number six in the overall passenger car sales rankings in the country last year.
The MBSA passenger car division grew total sales 4.8% to 22 636 units in 2013, compared with 2012. More than 12 500 units of this number were C-Class models.