Production Start for New Diesel Engine at Mercedes-Benz Plant in Untertürkheim


* Investment of around €500 million

* Annual production of 500,000 engines in the initial phase

* Rainer Schmückle, Chief Operating Officer Mercedes-Benz Cars: "Our modular production concept means we can use the engine for a broad range of applications."

* Volker Stauch, Head of Powertrain Production and Plant Director in Untertürkheim: "Our production operation meets the very highest standards in terms of both ergonomics and environmental efficiency."

Stuttgart/Untertürkheim, Germany, Oct 20, 2008 - Following several years of development and around 100,000 hours on the test rig, the new four-cylinder diesel engine from Mercedes-Benz has now gone into series production. This new-generation engine combines great performance with outstanding efficiency, boasting fuel-consumption figures of only 5.2 liters per 100 kilometers and carbon dioxide emissions of 138 grams CO2/km.

Developed at an investment of around half a billion euros, the new four-cylinder diesel engine is set to play a key role in the future of this long-established Mercedes-Benz production location. In the initial phase, 500,000 units of this engine are to be built each year in Untertürkheim.

The new engine is being manufactured within the Mercedes-Benz powertrain production alliance and will therefore be produced entirely in Germany. The Untertürkheim Plant is manufacturing the crankcase, crankshaft, cylinder head, connecting rods, and fuel components as well as assembling the basic engine unit. The Berlin Plant will supply the oil pump and camshafts. Final assembly will take place at MDC Power GmbH in Kölleda (Thuringia), a fully owned subsidiary of Daimler AG.

As Rainer Schmückle, Chief Operating Officer Mercedes-Benz Cars, explains: "Our modular production concept means that the engine can be used for a broad range of applications. Thanks to the production alliance between Untertürkheim and Kölleda and the large number of units being produced, we have been able to put together a really competitive package."

Reduced complexity for more applications

The new four-cylinder unit replaces a number of existing diesel engines. Thanks to its compact design, it can be mounted either longitudinally or transversely, which in turn means that it can be used in a variety of production series. From November 2008, it will be installed in the C-Class Prime Edition, followed at a later date by the new GLK, the E-Class and S-Class, and Mercedes-Benz vans. In addition, the engines are to be supplied to Chrysler.

Investment in German locations for the new production series

In preparation for the manufacture of the new-generation diesel engine, the Mercedes-Benz plant in Untertürkheim has been enlarged to include a two-story extension that provides an additional production area of roughly 17,000 square meters. This new building is fully integrated in the existing plant and stands on reinforced concrete pillars.

Manual final assembly will be carried out at MDC Power GmbH in Kölleda (Thuringia), which has been a fully owned subsidiary of Daimler AG since 2006. Here, too, a new building has been erected for assembly of the engine.

Innovative production technology developed by Daimler

Innovative technology is a feature of not only the new diesel engine itself but also the production process used to make it. The production systems are for the most part modular, which means they can be adapted for different levels of activity, thus guaranteeing greater flexibility with respect to the number of units produced. The requisite production equipment is largely the result of in-house development in cooperation with Production and Materials Technology.

"The production process is tailored exactly to the product. By avoiding the unnecessary transfer of workpieces, we're able to produce more efficiently," explains Volker Stauch, Head of Powertrain Production and Plant Director in Untertürkheim. For example, "pick and place" robots fitted with simple and robust grippers are used to assemble the cylinder heads and then transfer them directly to the next workstation. This simplifies logistics and cuts down on storage space.

Enviromentally friendly production based on prizewinning method

The Untertürkeim Plant has been employing the prizewinning method of minimum quantity lubrication in engine production since 2005. This involves the use of minimal quantities of lubrication mixed with cold air in place of conventional cooling lubricants. The requisite technology was developed on a cross-departmental basis at Untertürkheim with the support of external experts from universities and suppliers.

Introduction of this new method has reduced the use of cooling lubricants to a fraction of what was once required. Since conventional cooling lubricants are oil-based and require expensive processing with the use of large amounts of energy, the utilization of this innovative method brings enormous cost benefits as well as making an important contribution toward reducing the environmental impact of production. The method was presented with the Environmental Leadership Award in 2005, an annual prize awarded by the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) and Daimler AG.

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