Daimler rolls out new S-Class Mercedes and new production chief

Wed Jun 12, 2013 10:53am EDT
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By Christiaan Hetzner

SINDELFINGEN, Germany (Reuters) - Daimler's (DAIGn.DE: Quote) latest Mercedes-Benz S-Class limousine rolled off the assembly line for the first time on Wednesday, coinciding with the first appearance of another important newcomer - the company's head of production.

Andreas Renschler talked to the press at the group's manufacturing plant in Sindelfingen, southwest Germany, for the first time since taking on his new role in April.

Renschler faces some big challenges to deliver the bulk of 2 billion euros ($2.65 billion) in planned cost cuts at the plant by the end of next year.

Daimler has been struggling to compete with its rivals in small cars as well as match their growth in China. The Stuttgart-based company has fallen further behind German rivals BMW (BMWG.DE: Quote) and Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE: Quote).

Renschler also takes on the tough job of extracting productivity gains and labor concessions from German unions at Mercedes.

He pledged to carry on with the efficiency program initiated by his predecessor Wolfgang Bernhard but is prepared to adopt a conciliatory approach.

"This is not about doing something against (the will) of the works council or against the management board. The goal of the entire workforce is to be productive and efficient," he told reporters. "Ask the works council, they would tell you the same thing - we have a common interest to make the German plants more efficient."

One main target is to cut the average hours needed to build each vehicle from around 40 currently to 30 in the medium-term.   Continued...

Dieter Zetsche (L), CEO of German carmaker Daimler, and Mercedes production boss Andreas Renschler pose with a new Mercedes-Benz S400 hybrid car in Sindelfingen near Stuttgart, June 12, 2013. REUTERS/Michaela Rehle