Mercedes-Benz Vans continues its path of global growth also in the current year. In the first quarter of 2016, the van manufacturer delivered 76,600 units to customers (up by 20 percent), a new record. The strongest sales drivers were the mid-size van Vito and the V-Class multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) with growth of around 60 percent respectively. Sales of the Vito were up by around 61 percent to 21,300 units in the first quarter (previous year: 13,200). The V-Class sold 9,300 units in the first quarter, up by around 58 percent on the previous year’s figure (5,900). Also for 2016 as a whole, Mercedes-Benz Vans anticipates a significantly higher demand for both models compared with the previous year.

Taking account of the continuous high demand, the division is further expanding the production capacity at its global lead plant for the manufacture of mid-size vans in Vitoria, Spain. To this end, Mercedes-Benz Vans is increasing its capital expenditure in 2016 to around 41 million euros, up 14 million euros on 2015. A large proportion of this expenditure goes into the adaption of the body shop, the paint shop and the assembly line. The introduction of a third shift as from October this year is designed to achieve a significant increase in annual production.

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“With the Vito and V-Class, we have turned the mid-size segment into the second pillar of our ‘Mercedes-Benz Vans goes global’ international growth strategy in addition to the Sprinter”, explains Frank Klein, Head of Mercedes-Benz Vans Operations and responsible in that role for the division’s worldwide production. “As the global lead plant for this series, our facility in Vitoria is the key factor behind this success. The highly motivated and qualified workforce is not just excellent in the way it deals with the rapid growth in demand. The experts in Vitoria also do outstanding work in connection with the further internationalisation of our production network. It is also thanks to them that we have established uniform Mercedes-Benz production processes around the world – with regards to the mid-size segment in the USA, Argentina and China – and are achieving top-level quality at all our plants.”

International production network for the vehicles of the mid-size segment
Mercedes-Benz Vans manufactures its mid-size vans at three other locations of its global production network: in the USA, Argentina and China. All these plants cooperate closely with the specialists at the lead plant in Vitoria. The experienced experts in Spain coordinate international production, from tooling strategy to logistics to quality management. Production of the V-Class at the joint venture Fujian Benz Automotive Co., Ltd (FBAC) in Fuzhou, China, started at the beginning of the year. As a next step, local production of the new Vito will begin in Fuzhou in the course of 2016.

To meet the high customer demand, for the first time the Vitoria plant manufactures also during all summer months in two shifts. Every day at present, around 540 vehicles roll off the line in Vitoria in two shifts – the figure was around 470 at the end of 2015. Consequently, since the beginning of the year Mercedes-Benz Vans has increased the workforce by around 800 to approximately 4,600. The introduction of a third shift as from October 2016 will result in the plant producing around 660 vehicles every day. In line with this growth, the number of employees is set to undergo another significant increase in the next few months. Mercedes-Benz Vans has invested a total of over 190 million euros in the start-up and expansion of production of the latest generations of the Vito and V-Class in Vitoria.

Source: Mercedes-Benz Vans