A-class assembly at Rastatt

A-class assembly at Rastatt

Daimler has announced more details of plans for its Mercedes-Benz Rastatt car plant which will produce the next generation compact cars.

Between now and 2020, the automaker will spend around EUR1m (US$1.12m) on further technical development and production expansion as part of a EUR3bn programme announced last September.

Within the framework of the 'transformation plan' for Rastatt plant, the company and works council have agreed measures to significantly improve competitiveness in return for "stable employment for the next years". This includes more flexible working time and overall cost savings in the triple-digit million euro range. Rastatt will gain 250 new permanent jobs under rhe agreement running until the end of 2024.

"We will strengthen the role of the location as the lead plant for compact cars within our global production network", said Mercedes-Benz Cars production and supply chain chief Markus Schäfer.

Mercedes said capacity utilisation at Rastatt, with 6,500 workers, was "running at a high level". In 2014, the plant built a record 292,784 vehicles as the automaker grew unit sales 24.7% year on year to 463,152 A-Class, B-Class, CLA and GLA models, also a record tally for its compact cars. A new sales record was also set for in the first five months of 2015, with 215,148 vehicles sold.

M-B started on compact cars in 1997 with the A-Class, the brand's first front driver and sales have now reached 4m across four nameplates.

Rastatt will "significantly" increase production in coming years. "The transformation plan for the [plant] has been pivotal for us as we could secure the production for our next generation compact cars. Our growth course will lead to significant improvements in economic efficiency and will secure employment at the location for the long term. The investment of around EUR1bn provides a clear proof that we trust in the motivation and professional competence of the workforce at this location, which delivers top quality on a daily basis," said site manager Stefan Abraham.

Rastatt will continue to offer vocational training positions over several years and will give trainees the opportunity for a permanent job after successful completion of programmes. At present, the location trains 70 apprentices and dual university students each year. The agreement also includes extensive measures for improving ergonomic working conditions, including EUR250,000 per year reserved for ergonomic measures which can be implemented at short notice. Other measures include a health centre, which is currently in the planning stage and will require further spending.

Plant works council chairman Ullrich Zinnert said: "With the significant investments, the permanent hires, and the conservation of our previous number of vocational training positions, the Rastatt location has been placed on a secured foundation for the future. We are glad, that we were able to push and agree upon these items. This is a very positive signal for the workforce. One particularly important issue for us are the investments to improve ergonomics and address the demographic change."

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