For the fourth consecutive year the Mercedes-Benz South Africa (MBSA) manufacturing plant in East London has proven its dominance in the Europe-Africa region in terms of new vehicle production quality. This is the result of the 2012 Initial Quality Study (IQS) conducted by the esteemed J.D. Power and Associates in the US market, which acknowledged the plant with a silver award yesterday. MBSA is the only African manufacturer on this years’ winner’s podium.
The East London Plant produces the C-Class for both the local and US markets, and ties for the silver award in the Europe-Africa region with its sister-plant in Sindelfingen Germany for production of the CL-Class and the S-Class.
Vice-president for manufacturing at MBSA, Arno van der Merwe, ascribes the prestige of a fourth consecutive IQS award to the dedication and passion of the plant employees: “The consistency of our ranking amongst the top manufacturing plants in the world is testament to the calibre of our employees, their positive mindset and our culture of continuous improvement, which sets our brand apart as a leader in the luxury market.”
The J.D. Power and Associates IQS, now in its 26th year, polled 74 000 buyers of new 2012 model vehicles in the United States after 90 days of ownership, based on a 228-question survey to assess average levels of defects and malfunctions. The study is revered by the motor industry as an accurate assessment of new vehicle quality, and an indicator of manufacturing improvements.
The silver award for the East London Plant in 2012 came as a result of a score of only 28 problems per 100 vehicles (28PP100). This is an improvement over the previous year when the plant achieved a tally of 31 problem per 100 vehicles to win the gold.
“The score is an indication of the consistent and sustainable strides we are making as a local manufacturer to create products of the highest build quality, that are safer and more carbon-friendly vehicles,” van der Merwe says.
The East London plant is currently in full implementation mode, gearing up for the introduction of the next generation C-Class in 2014. As one of only four Daimler AG plants world-wide selected to produce the luxury vehicle, MBSA will inject in excess of R2.5 billion into the local and national economy as it prepares facilities, infrastructure and human capital for the new model launch.
President and CEO of MBSA, Dr Martin Zimmermann says: “Our plant is pushing ahead on its way towards even higher output and quality levels. Our highly skilled employees are excelling in finding ways of working smarter, and are running on quality levels not yet seen. All of this in parallel with revamping the plant and training hundreds of colleagues in preparation for the launch of the new C-Class in 2014.”