BBACChina – With the production launch of the GLA, Beijing Benz Automotive Corporation (BBAC) becomes the most comprehensive Mercedes-Benz car plant worldwide, turning out front- and rear-wheel drive vehicles plus engines. The GLA is the company’s first locally made compact car.

Built in less than three years and stretching over 1.5m sq. m, the €720m ($768) new plant is being described by Mercedes as “the final puzzle piece” in its compact-car production network, joining factories in Rastatt (Germany), Kecskemet (Hungary) and Valmet Automotive (Finland). It will take Mercedes’ local passenger car capacity to 250,000 per annum by the end of 2015, although Hubertus Troska, Daimler board member with responsibility for China, said the OEM “will certainly not stop there”.

BBAC now has more than 10,800 personnel, 800 of whom will be dedicated to the compact-car area during the ramp-up phase. Many trained abroad for the GLA, mainly at Rastatt but also Kecskemet and Sindelfingen, before returning to share their skills in Beijing.