- East London manufacturing facility takes silver in the J.D. Power 2014 Initial Quality Study (Europe-Africa region), a sixth consecutive year in the award rankings.
- Out of Africa, for the World: Mercedes-Benz South Africa (MBSA) plant proves once again that efficiency and quality is the norm
The much anticipated J.D. Power Initial Quality Study (IQS) has placed the MBSA plant in East London amongst the top motor manufacturers in 2014, according to their poll of American consumers after 90 days of ownership of new models in this market. The MBSA plant has received a silver commendation in the Europe-Africa manufacturing region from this esteemed organisation, whose IQS quality rating is upheld by many in the international automotive industry as a benchmark for quality and reliability.
As the only African plant on the list of awardees, this is the sixth consecutive award for Daimler AG's South African plant. The company's J.D. Power award collection now boasts two gold awards (2009 and 2011) and three silver awards (2012, 2013 and 2014) in the Europe-Africa region, as well as the ultimate accolade - a platinum award in 2010, as the highest ranking plant in the world supplying the American market.
MBSA CEO and vice president of manufacturing, Arno van der Merwe, attributes the consistency of the manufacturing plant's performance to a focus on efficiency improvement and stringent quality systems within the production process. "While technology and process excellence is of vital importance, equally essential is the mind-set and passion of our employees," van der Merwe says. "We prioritise problem-solving at all levels within the plant, by harnessing the unique skills of our employees. This award is a tribute to their tenacity and expertise."
The East London plant produced the W204 C-Class for both the local and US markets, and registered only 27 problems per 100 vehicles (27PP100) surveyed by J.D. Power in 2014. The gold award recipient in the Europe-Africa category performed only one point better, at 26PP100 vehicles. "This clearly shows the necessity to run a tight ship at our plant in terms of reliability, efficiency and quality," van der Merwe adds.
The W204 C-Class model has been replaced by the latest model variant from Daimler AG, and started production at the East London plant in May 2014. "The fact that we have maintained the quality of our production in a run-out year, while simultaneously preparing both facility and employees for a new and more advanced model, proves the level of focus of our employees," van der Merwe concludes. "We are extremely proud of this award and its implication for our status as a first-class manufacturer."
As one of only four Daimler AG plants world-wide selected to produce the luxury new C-Class, MBSA has invested in excess of R5 billion into the South African economy between 2011 and 2015. Close to R60 million has been channelled into training initiatives, with more than 1 200 training interventions and assignments to various international plants. In addition, nearly 900 unemployed people from the Border Kei region of the Eastern Cape have been upskilled as part of the new C-Class training programme.