Mercedes-Benz Premiers at the KOAA Show – and is the Only Premium Manufacturer


The ascent to becoming an industrial nation began only 50 years ago. Today, South Korea can score with a number of superlatives: It's a world market leader in displays, the world's largest shipyard is here, and so is the largest automobile plant. The KOAA Show in Seoul is the perfect opportunity to find new, innovative partners.

With a population of around 50 million, South Korea has risen to become the fifth largest automotive nation. The number of technologically leading suppliers has increased continuously. This dynamism has not gone unnoticed at Mercedes-Benz Cars Procurement & Supplier Quality (MP). MP has already been working together with Korean suppliers for many years. For example, fuel supply modules from HYUNDAM are used in the new GLE. In future, LG will be delivering certain displays for Mercedes-Benz cars and Hanon Systems will be supplying the air conditioning units for a future product family. Negotiations for battery cells are in progress with Samsung SDI. Klaus Zehender, Divisional Board Member MP: “Based on the positive experiences with Korean suppliers, we are very interested to further explore opportunities with new potential partners.”

Based on the positive experiences with Korean suppliers, we are very interested to further explore opportunities with new potential partners.

Dr. Klaus Zehender, Divisional Board Member MP

MP causes quite a stir

Excellent opportunity to make new contacts: The KOAA Show in Seoul. Korea’s largest annual automotive show. 321 suppliers exhibited here, including 41 from abroad. For the first time, Mercedes-Benz was also present with a booth. It created quite a stir. Among the media and the suppliers. “The response was staggering,” said Jochen Schaefers, Head of MP Communications with satisfaction. “We were able to intensify existing business relationships and also succeeded in making many new contacts with suppliers.” And the new contacts came mainly from the field of electrics/electronics, which is the core competence of the Korean supply industry. World-known corporations are not the only ones to lead in innovation; small companies are also active in this area. Many of these companies were only established during the last 15 years – as part of the liberalization of the economy and the resulting opening of the foreign markets. Until the end of the 1990s, companies were only allowed to supply to Hyundai and Kia.

Samsung wants to abolish wallets

Big and small suppliers presented their innovations and visions at the KOAA Show. Electronics giant Samsung wants to do away with car keys and wallets. Its aim is for smart watches to open the car door and start the engine, as well as to pay at the fueling station. Small but fine: WISE automotive. Founded in 2005, 54 employees. The tinkerers working here have developed a world novelty in the shape of an ingenious camera system. Camera and display instead of mirrors and a view over the shoulder. PanoramaView and 4D TimeVision make the blind spot a thing of the past. And, thanks to the 360-degree camera, you can also see what’s under the car. When parking in reverse, drivers can use the markings on the ground visualized on the display to guide them. A much bigger company with over 1000 employees: SEKONIX. In 2014, the Korean lens expert created a sensation by unveiling the world’s smallest projector. Smaller than a cigarette box. The innovative projector technology is now used in the new generation of head-up displays. Long established in the supplier industry: SKC. This company’s presentation for the show focused on wireless smartphone charging and a special intermediate layer built into the window panel, which is designed to reduce noise inside the vehicle.

To support our growth strategy at Mercedes-Benz, we are searching for the best partners worldwide. The suppliers in Korea are leaders in electronics. We can definitely benefit from this know-how.

Dr. Klaus Zehender, Divisional Board Member MP

Dr. Klaus Zehender
Klaus Zehender, Divisional Board Member MP.

Application training for suppliers

How does one become a Mercedes-Benz supplier? MP staged an information event at the KOAA Show to provide an answer to this question. The application process begins with an e-mail which briefly outlines the company and the product. The process ends with the company being listed as a supplier. But it’s a long road with many high hurdles along the way. Because, as in other countries, the tried-and-tested standards apply: “We expect cutting-edge innovations, superb quality, and a mindset of partnership to secure joint commercial success,” explained Klaus Zehender, Divisional Board Member MP.

Presentation: How to become a Mercedes-Benz supplier.

The first application letters have already been received. Thus, the presence at the trade fair has in any case provided other innovative Korean suppliers with an opportunity to come into contact with Mercedes-Benz. The evaluations and tests will now show what new partnerships will come about.

Jan 20, 2016
Rasmus Muttscheller