Daimler is all set to commence assembly of the new Mercedes-Benz M-class and GL-class in India. The company has confirmed that the necessary preparations at the production site in India are in place and the final assembly of the M-class using SKD kits (semi-knocked-down: complete bodywork and further vehicle components) is expected to start by around November.
This will be the first time Daimler will assemble the SUVs outside its parent plant in Tuscaloosa, USA. The SKD kits are produced in Tuscaloosa and then prepared for shipping and sent to the final assembly plants. The vehicle assembly from SKD kits will attract less import duty, thus helping Mercedes-Benz price its SUVs competitively. Wolfgang Bernhard, member of the board, Daimler AG, said, “We expect high growth rates in markets like India and therefore extend our local production. Thus, we open up new potential as part of our global strategy.”
The company is expanding its range of vehicle kits available for local assembly in the emerging markets. Following the production of the M-class in India this year, the first units of the new GL-class made from SKD kits will roll off the assembly line in India by the end of 2013.
A new SKD logistics center has recently entered operation and it is run by logistics service provider BLG, which works closely with the Mercedes-Benz plant as well as with Daimler’s central international manufacturing control in Sindelfingen. Vehicle parts such as engine and transmission will continue to be imported from the company’s powertrain plant in Stuttgart.
The company already assembles the C-class, E-class and S-class models in India, with the M-class and GL-class in the pipeline. Other markets where the company currently assembles its products are Egypt (C, E, S, GLK-class), Indonesia (C, E, S-class; M and GL-class to be added in the future), Malaysia (C, E, S-class), Thailand (C, E, S-class; M-class to be added in the future) and Vietnam (C, E, GLK-class).