March 30, 2013

Daimler van joint-venture Fujian Benz Automotive Corporation opens new product development center in China

After only two years of construction, Fujian Benz Automotive Corporation's new product development center was officially opened in Fuzhou. Fujian Benz Automotive Corporation is a joint-venture of Daimler and several partners for the production of vans in China. The new product
development center is the first such facility of Mercedes-Benz Vans outside Germany. The center encompasses a design and computation department, a proving ground, several component and complete-vehicle test rigs, an electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) lab, an exhaust gas lab, a prototype production department, an endurance testing workshop, and other facilities. The center focuses on Mercedes-Benz van models that are manufactured and sold in China: the Sprinter, the Vito, and the Viano. A total of RMB 500-million (approx. €60 -illion) was invested in the new center.

"Our new product development center in Fuzhou is an important milestone in our 'Vans goes global' growth strategy," said Volker Mornhinweg, Head of Mercedes-Benz Vans. "We have been producing the Vito and the Viano in China since 2010, and we also started manufacturing a bus version of the Sprinter in the Fujian Benz Automotive Corporation joint venture in 2011. These production activities are now being supplemented with product development know-how. This allows us to adapt our vans to local customer needs more effectively, and it demonstrates once again that we aim to be the global player among the world's van manufacturers."

One part of the new product development center is concentrated at the Fujian Benz production plant in Qinkou. The overall vehicle development department is located on approximately 11,000 sq m of built-up area. The department is responsible for product development and prototype construction as well as component and complete-vehicle testing. The approximately 53,000 sq m proving ground is also located in Qinkou. Among other things, the facility features a 1,400 m circuit that includes a test track, a torture track, a steeply banked curve, and a water trough. At the proving ground, engineers examine the vehicles' acceleration, braking, and driving behavior and subject the vans to endurance tests.

The second part of the new product development center is housed in a neighboring industrial area for high-tech businesses. There, Fujian Benz has concentrated the EMC lab, the exhaust gas test lab, and the chassis dynamometers on a built-up area of more than 8,000 sq m. The EMC lab tests the electromagnetic properties of the vehicles and the components. In the exhaust gas center, the developers drive the vehicles through the relevant fuel consumption and exhaust gas cycles and work to enhance them.

"We're extremely proud that we can now begin to develop vans locally here in China," says Dr. SaschaPaasche, Head of Engineering at Mercedes-Benz Vans. "It's a big advantage to be so close to the Chinese market and its customers. As a result, Mercedes-Benz Vans is now not only the world's only premium manufacturer with its own van production operations in China, but also the only one with a local van product development center. We are developing in China for China."


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