DaimlerChrysler celebrates 50 years of production in Brazil

DaimlerChrysler celebrates 50 years of production in Brazil  
Filed under:
News, DaimlerChrysler
on 11/28/2006

For DaimlerChrysler do Brasil, 2006 represents a historical landmark. Today, the company is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the inauguration of its plant in the city of São Bernardo do Campo. The ceremony was attended by Dr. Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the DaimlerChrysler Board of Management and Head of Mercedes Car Group and Andreas Renschler, member of the DaimlerChrysler Board of Management and responsible for Truck Group & Buses.

Dr. Dieter Zetsche said on the occasion of the ceremony: “Fifty years of operations in this country have contributed to DaimlerChrysler do Brasil becoming a truly Brazilian company which has grown along with the country. With our large experience here and based on 100 years of leadership in the automotive industry, the Mercedes-Benz brand can provide the consumers with premium prod-ucts and technology. That’s why we are the Brazilian market leader in luxury cars, trucks and buses.”

Five of ten trucks on the road in Brazil today wear the Mercedes star, as do seven of ten buses. In the luxury car segment, Mercedes-Benz currently captures 36% market share with C-, E- and S-Class.

“The plant of São Bernardo has played a strategic role in the DaimlerChrysler Truck Group. In recent years, its rational and lean production system was even considered a reference to all plants of the Group worldwide. In the last 50 years we have produced almost 1,600,000 commercial vehicles here in Brazil”, said Renschler.

The startup of activities at the plant began on September 28, 1956 with 862 employees. By1960, the total had already surpassed 5,600 workers. In 2006, the unit employs around 11,500 persons.

From the outset, production was focused on the L 312 truck, also known as the “Torpedo”. The model utilized an inline six-cylinder, indirect injection diesel engine, of 100 DIN horsepower (112hp-SAE). Bus production began two years later, with the introduction of the monoblock O 321 model, that received a similar engine, however with 110 hp-DIN (122 hp-SAE).

Mercedes-Benz Technology: Pioneering Spirit

The history of Mercedes-Benz in Brazil has always been characterized by a pioneering spirit. Unlike the majority of the national fleet of trucks and buses in 1950, the brand’s vehicles featured diesel engines – at that time less than 2% of the trucks circulating in Brazil were powered by diesel fuel. In 1956, with the manufacture of the first diesel engines made entirely in Brazil, the brand introduced and consolidated the use of diesel as a more efficient and profitable fuel for transportation of cargo and passengers.

In 1998, Mercedes-Benz introduced the first electronically-controlled diesel engines produced in Brazil, available today in the entire product line of commercial vehicles. Mercedes-Benz was also responsible for the introduction of a wide range of other innovations in commercial vehicles, such as natural gas-powered engines, disk brakes for trucks, ABS and ASR brakes, the Top Brake system and Turbo Brake system, items that incorporate the key aspects of the brand’s worldwide experience.

Today, the Brazilian unit is one of the DaimlerChrysler Truck Group’s center of competence for the development and production of bus chassis. On a worldwide level, it is also responsible for the design and development of the Accelo line of light-duty trucks.

At its São Bernardo do Campo plant, DaimlerChrysler counts on a modern and advanced Center of Technological Development (CTD). Created in 1991, it is a pioneer in Brazil in the area of commercial ve-hicles and is the largest of its kind in all of Latin America. Moreover, it is the Mercedes-Benz’s largest technological development center out-side Germany. The CTD develops solutions for future projects and en-hancements for standard products, always taking into consideration the Brazilian conditions of vehicle usage.

At present, the Mercedes-Benz line of trucks features light-duty Accelo models (since 2003), medium-duty and semi-heavy-duty Atego models (since 2004) and the extra-heavy-duty Axor (since 2005), products that count on cutting-edge technology for use in various applications. The line of bus chassis is represented by the O-500 family, which also comes in an articulated version since this year.

Growing along with the country

The vehicles produced by Mercedes-Benz contributed to a series of major projects, such as the construction of Brasilia, the highways that would eventually connect all of the country’s regions to the new capi-tal, and the airports of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. At the same time, the truck maker contributed to the growth of the city of São Bernardo do Campo. The city – which in 1950 had less than 30,000 inhabitants – today boasts a population of around 723,000.

Mercedes-Benz expanded at a similar pace. In 1979 a new factory was built in the city of Campinas (SP) for bus production. Today, Campinas facilities unite the activities of technical assistance, after-sales, parts commercialization, training and development of the network of dealer-ships.

In 1999, the passenger car factory was inaugurated in the city of Juiz de Fora in the state of Minas Gerais, which initially produced the A-Class, which at that time just had been introduced in Europe. Today, the facility produces the C-Class Sedan for export. As of first quarter 2007, it will focus on production of the C-Class Sports Coupe, destined mainly for export into European markets.

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