Mercedes-Benz IracemápolisBrazil – Established at a cost of €600m ($683.2m), the new factory has a launch capacity of 20,000 units per year. The first car to roll off the line, 19 months after construction work began, was a C-Class saloon; from summer 2016, the plant will also make the GLA compact SUV.

“The opening of the Mercedes-Benz Iracemápolis plant is a further milestone in the development of our flexible and efficient production network,” said Markus Schäfer, member of the divisional board of Mercedes-Benz Cars, Manufacturing and Supply Chain Management. “With the local production, we are strengthening our global competitiveness and will be closer to our Brazilian customers and their needs for passenger cars of the premium brand Mercedes-Benz.”

The vehicle-maker regards Iracemápolis as a model for the layout and technology of its medium-sized plants, with a much lower level of automation than is traditional in Mercedes-Benz facilities. According to Schäfer, this will enable “highly flexible and top-quality production” to suit the local market. Nonetheless, Iracemápolis is connected to the other 25 factories in the Mercedes-Benz Cars network, which enables location-independent access to production data and process management. All installations and robots can be centrally managed and updated with new software.

Iracemápolis will operate with a 600-strong workforce. A training centre was set up nearby to support the process locally, while employees were also sent to learn from existing operations at sister plants in Bremen (Germany), Pune (India) and Kecskmet (Hungary).