Brian Joss –
Mercedes-Benz South Africa (MBSA) added another milestone to its journey of almost 70 years in the country with the one millionth Mercedes-Benz passenger car produced at its East London plant, last week.
The one millionth Mercedes-Benz passenger car is a white right-hand drive C200 Mercedes-Benz C-Class. It was on 31 January 1958, 57 years ago, when the first Mercedes-Benz passenger car, a W121 Nap Vista Blue Mercedes-Benz 190, came off the line of the then Car Distributors Assembly (CDA) in East London. This first unit was dispatched to John Williams Motors in Bloemfontein. Since then, MBSA has produced 24 different models with the number of units produced per model steadily climbing to where the East London plant is on track this year to produce a record number of units – for the domestic market and for export.
“MBSA will continue to create jobs, developing the economy and essentially transferring skills. Over the years we have always placed emphasis on superior quality in the products we deliver to our customers. For us excellence is the norm and should not simply be an expectation of something that can be achieved in the future. It is also befitting that the one millionth Mercedes-Benz passenger car produced here today is the latest generation C-Class, which was deservedly announced as the 2015 World Car of the Year in April 2015,” says Mercedes-Benz South Africa CEO and Executive Director Manufacturing, Arno van der Merwe.
The model line-up from the plant over the years include, amongst others, various models in the Ponton series from 1958 to1962, the W110 and W111 Fintail from 1962 to 1968, the “new generation” W114 and W115 from the late 1960s, the W116 (the first true S-Class) from 1973 and the W124 (the first E-Class) from 1986, the latter winning the Car of the Year title in 1987 for the Mercedes-Benz 260E.
The C-Class production history at the East London plant is a story of steady technological advances to where the new state-of-the-art W205 production line places MBSA at the forefront of production technology, not only in South Africa, but in the world.
“Producing the one millionth Mercedes-Benz passenger car is a remarkable achievement for us. It is the result of the collective work effort that has been displayed by everyone involved with the company over a long period of time. Certainly, this would have not been possible without the dedication of our employees. The production of this unit is simply the start of a new, even brighter era for us. We will maintain our levels of excellence and even surpass the accomplishments of the past,” says Van der Merwe.
Last year, the East London plant produced more than 45 000 vehicles since the production launch of the new C‑Class in May of that year. At the end of 2014, more than 3 000 people were employed at the plant specifically.