Less than three years after its opening, Mercedes-Benz’ youngest plant in Kecskemét, Hungary has passed another important milestone: With the official start of production of the Mercedes-Benz CLA Shooting Brake, the second model series to be exclusively produced in Kecskemét after the Mercedes-Benz CLA is rolling off the line. Plant manager Thomas Geier and his team welcomed Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and Markus Schäfer, Member of the Divisional Board Mercedes-Benz Cars, Manufacturing and Supply Chain Management, to the celebration of the start of production.
“The start of production of the new CLA Shooting Brake marks the fifth successful ramp-up for our new generation of compact cars in our global production network”, said Schäfer. Around 150,000 B-Class and CLA-Class vehicles were produced in Kecskemét last year, and 300,000 units have rolled off the line at the plant since it started production in 2012. In this way, the Hungarian plant makes an important contribution to the growth of the particularly successful compact car segment within the global production network of Mercedes-Benz Cars. Unit sales rose by 24.7 percent to 463,152 A-Class, B-Class, CLA-Class and GL-Class vehicles sold in 2014. Mercedes-Benz has never delivered so many compact vehicles to its customers in a single year. The CLA, which is produced exclusively in Kecskemét, has been very successful in its single most important market, the USA, almost doubling unit sales to 27,000 vehicles in 2014. Overall, Mercedes-Benz sold more cars than ever before last year. The brand with the star delivered 1,650,010 vehicles to customers (+12.9 percent), thus posting the fourth record year in a row.
“The team in Kecskemét has proven that ‘made by Mercedes-Benz in Kecskemét’ is a true success story. From the very start, we have been making top-quality cars in accordance with our global production standards”, said Schäfer, who went on to thank all of the plant’s Hungarian partners on behalf of the company for their continuous and constructive partnership: “We would not have been able to write this success story in Kecskemét without the support of politics, the administrative authorities and society. We will continue to rely on this good cooperation.” One example of this support is a low-interest export promotion loan totaling 90 million euros, which the company will use for financing of further investments in the Kecskemét plant in the future.
Thomas Geier added: “Of course, the entire team of the plant is especially proud for the opportunity to produce the CLA and now the CLA Shooting Brake exclusively for customers around the world. We are aware of the responsibility that comes with it and will build on our achievements to date with consistent top performance.”
Investments in the Kecskemét plant to date total around a billion euros. After spending 800 million euros on the construction of the plant, the company has continued to develop the facility, last year above all in preparation for the production of the CLA Shooting Brake. This involved recruiting and intensively training many new employees, which brought the workforce to almost 4,000 people by the end of 2014.