Daimler demotes roles of Mercedes plant chiefs image

Daimler is stepping up its cost saving efforts by changing the way it produces Mercedes-Benz cars, switching from a manufacturing network controlled by individual factory bosses to a leaner system centered around car design and model lines.

The automaker is mending its operations after losing ground to rival carmaker Audi, which has become the second bigger luxury maker in the world, after BMW. The overhaul was presented on Wednesday by Markus Schaefer, the new divisional chief of production and supply-chain management at Mercedes-Benz Cars, who was brought into this position after Andreas Renschler’s defection to Volkswagen.

Schaefer said that the ability to optimize production processes in multiple factories will help the automaker save money. He added that Mercedes-Benz is aiming to save costs of 5-6% per year. In the future, the traditional role of the factory chief would fall away as manufacturing will be organized around product design, independent of individual locations.

The new divisional chief said on this topic that “The role of the individual factory chief is changing. In future, Sindelfingen will no longer have a factory chief in the traditional sense. Under our previous production structure, the individual plants operated largely autonomously.”

Daimler will re-evaluate what activities will still be done in-house and what will potentially be outsourced. Four new production chiefs are now overseeing responsibility for front-wheel drive cars, rear-wheel drive cars, convertibles and sports utility vehicles.

By Gabriela Florea