All Aboard, Ahoy Mexico!
All contracts have been awarded, and the first Mercedes-Benz will roll off the assembly line in Mexico in 2018. Some 250 suppliers came to the Supplier Day in Aguascalientes.
If you drive from the airport in Aguascalientes into the city, you might find it hard to believe. At the spot where excavators, dump trucks and a sea of construction workers are still hard at work today, in a just few months cars are supposed to be coming off the assembly lines that have yet to be built. The COMPAS production plant, a joint venture of the Renault-Nissan Alliance and Daimler AG, rises up on the dusty soil of the steppe. The Nissan brand Infiniti kicks it off in 2017, followed by Mercedes-Benz with a model of the next generation of compact cars.
Some 250 suppliers came to the Supplier Day Mexico in Aguascalientes at the invitation of Mercedes-Benz, and eagerly awaited the presentation by Klaus Zehender, Member of the Divisional Board Procurement & Supplier Quality, Mercedes-Benz Cars. “We want to achieve a localization rate of more than 80 percent in Mexico,” Zehender explains. “And we are offering the Mexican suppliers the opportunity to produce not only for the COMPAS plant, but also to supply the worldwide network of Mercedes-Benz.”
Jörg Prigl, Head of Product Group Compact Cars, points out the growing importance of the compact cars in his presentation. Although the cars won’t be coming off the assembly lines in Mexico until 2018, the Product Group Compact Cars has been on the ground with its own organization since early 2016, which by now is 75 members strong. In addition to Procurement & Supplier Quality, the members also come from Research & Development and Supply Chain Management. The team is headed by Klaus Mannsperger.
130 suppliers manufacture in Mexico
The way things stand at the moment, 130 suppliers will manufacture for the project in Mexico, many of them located in one of the four supplier parks in Aguascalientes. The three pillars of working with Mercedes-Benz Cars also apply to the newly added suppliers: top quality, innovation, and partnership. At the Supplier Day, the suppliers found answers to their questions during individual discussion sessions and at six market stalls, where employees of Mercedes-Benz provided information about topics ranging from logistics to compliance.
A location steeped in Tradition
At the end of the Supplier Day, buses took the participants to the COMPAS plant. It can’t be called a real factory tour just yet, because the plant is still under construction. The buildings have already been erected, work on the interior has started. “We are right on schedule,” assures COMPAS CEO Ryoji Kurosawa. Renault-Nissan and Daimler will invest one billion euro overall in the joint venture. Some 3,600 jobs are to be created here by 2020. Project partner Nissan is closely familiar with Central Mexico as a production site. The company has been building engines in Aguascalientes since 1982, and cars since 1992. The second Nissan plant came on line in 2013.