Cornerstone is laid at new Factory 56 assembly hall at Sindelfingen, where EQ line and new S-Class models will be made
Mercedes-Benz Cars has officially laid the cornerstone for its newest assembly hall in Sindelfingen. Dubbed Factory 56 the site will produce the brand’s luxury models, “robo-taxis” and its flagship electric series, the EQ.
Scheduled to open in 2020, the construction site has already seen 700,000m3 earth moved across an area of 220,000m2 – about the size of 30 football pitches.
It follows parent group Daimler’s plans to expand production at its existing plants in Bremen, Rastatt and Sindelfingen to include new EV lines, while its Hambach site in France will produce smart lines.
The February 20 ceremony was led by Mercedes-Benz board member Markus Schäfer, as well as Minister of Economics, Work and Housing Construction of Baden-Württemberg Dr. Nicole Hoffmeister-Kraut, the Lord Mayor of Sindelfingen Dr. Bernd Vöhringer, factory site manager and head of production Michael Bauer and Mercedes-Benz Sindelfingen Works Council chariman Ergun Lümali.
Daimler explained the importance of connected technologies and an “Industry 4.0” blueprint that will see production integrated with the supply chain. It says, for example, that future finished vehicles will automatically drive off the line and into the loading station. A “Mercedes me App” will also show customers the production of their vehicles and its progress before delivery.
The site will also include driverless transport systems (DTS) with product baskets support logistics and Radio Frequency Identification-technologies (RFID), allowing components and vehicles to tracked and linked digitally.
The roof will feature a solar photovoltaic (PV) system which feeds clean electricity into the building, reducting consumption by around 5,000 MWh per year.
“Our Factory 56 will define a new way of building cars. With its [factory], Mercedes-Benz Cars is creating the car plant of the future. It combines three trend-setting features: It is consistently digital and flexible – and it brings the term ‘green production’ to life. As the inventor of the car, we are reinventing production,” commented Markus Schäfer.
Dr. Nicole Hoffmeister-Kraut added that this would help secure the future of Baden-Württemberg as an automotive location: “The ‘Factory 56’ will bring together two global megatrends that are of crucial importance for our country in particular: the digitalization of production and vehicle models of the future.”
Details of the EQ are still scarce, but at least 10 models from the line are expected to be released by 2025. Production on the first model, the EQC SUV, is to start in 2019, but reports have also circulated that a production model will be on show in Geneva next week. A prototype has already been spotted out and about.
Sindelfingen will not be the sole source of the action however. Mercedes-Benz has also signalled it will invest in EV production in the US, via its Tuscaloosa site in Alabama. Last year the brand’s US unit said it would invest almost US$1.2 billion in new SUV and EQ production, and an additional battery plant.