DaimlerChrysler AG and its long-term partner Beijing Automotive Industry Holding Company (BAIC) have laid the cornerstone for the Mercedes-Benz manufacturing facility, which is part of the new joint venture, Beijing Benz-DaimlerChrysler Automotive Co. Ltd.
 
Dr. Rüdiger Grube, Member of the Board of Management of DaimlerChrysler AG Responsible for Corporate Development and China Operations; Joe Chao, President and CEO of BBDC; An Qingheng, Chairman of BAIC; and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder laid the plant cornerstone earlier this week as part of Schroeder's trip to China to promote Sino-German trade, at the manufacturing site in the Beijing Development Area, a new industrial park southeast of the city.

"Our new production facility embodies DaimlerChrysler's activities in China," said Grube. "With local production of Mercedes-Benz C-and E-Class sedans, we want to further enhance the presence of the Mercedes-Benz brand in China. DaimlerChrysler is striving to expand the strong brand and product portfolio it offers here, as well as exploring new growth segments."

"We are committed to establishing a world-class automotive joint-venture which delivers competitive products and services of maximum value for our customers, shareholders and employees," said Chao.

With the establishment of "Beijing Benz-DaimlerChrysler Automotive Co. Ltd.," DaimlerChrysler and BAIC restructured and expanded Beijing Jeep Corporation (BJC), the first international automotive joint venture in China to include Mercedes-Benz production. BJC, which was established in 1983, will relocate from downtown Beijing to a new facility adjacent to the Mercedes-Benz facility. Each partner has a 50% stake in the new 30-year joint venture, which will be responsible for local production of Mercedes-Benz E- and C-Class sedans at the new facility from mid-2005, in addition to the products BJC produces - the Jeep 2500; Jeep 4000 and 4700 (Grand Cherokee in other markets); BJ2020; Mitsubishi Pajero Sport and Mitsubishi Outlander vehicles.

In the mid-term, the new Mercedes-Benz production facility will produce up to 25,000 Mercedes-Benz E- and C-Class sedans annually. The facility is 62,777 sqm and includes a body shop, vehicle assembly area, component assembly area and administrative area. DaimlerChrysler's overall site at the BDA 1.9 million sqm.

DaimlerChrysler is investing EUR 1.2 billion in China for its ongoing and future projects to realize Mercedes-Benz passenger car and van production, relocate Beijing Jeep Corporation and realize the production of heavy-duty and medium-duty trucks.