SA car-building milestone: Mercedes to build first hybrids in Africa

Cape Town - Earlier in September Wheels24 reported on Mercedes-Benz South Africa (MBSA) launching two new hybrid cars in the country - the new C350 e and S500 e.

The hybrid C-Class will be built at the automaker's factory in East London in the Eastern Cape. Not only is this a first for SA, but a first in Africa.

READ: Mercedes SA launches new luxury hybrids: One of them costs R1.8-million

Ahead of Heritage Day, MBSA has introduced the new C350e plug-in hybrid model to its C-Class range - the first locally manufactured hybrid vehicle in Africa, and South Africa.

Its launch timing is quite apt, as it was around this time 120 years ago that the first motor car, a Benz Velo, arrived in the country.

The successful manufacture of the C350e in East London for both local and export markets is an important milestone in the company’s 68-year history and represents a clear vote of confidence from Daimler AG in its local subsidiary and award-winning South African plant.

The factory, one of four in the world producing the latest C Class, has over the last six years received numerous JD Power quality awards, and in May of 2015 the millionth vehicle manufactured in the plant rolled off the assembly line.

Florian Seidler, co-CEO of MBSA and executive director Mercedes-Benz cars, said: “This investment further demonstrates the company’s commitment to the advancement of technology and skills development in the country."

R100 million investment

Seidler added: “With a total investment of around R100-million in our Mercedes-Benz East London plant, the hybrid project comprised of more than 500 new purchase parts, of which 200 were local, including significant changes to the bumpers and wiring harnesses."

Logistics division's project management specialist Liebrecht Otto confirmed all employees and contractors involved with the manufacture of the hybrid units were specifically trained to safely work with high voltage components.

READ: Heritage Day: SA’s 120 years of motoring history

Otto said: “Instructors from TÜV SÜD, an international service corporation focusing on consulting, testing, certification and training, were brought in to the plant to ensure that we met the highest international safety standards. We have now set the benchmark in SA for safety, as we do for quality.

"From a facility perspective, to accommodate some of the additional work content, we installed a new lifter and High Station in the assembly area. Additionally, we installed a manipulator on the trim line to aid the operator in securing the new battery into the vehicle."

The locally built C350e, the latest hybrid model from Mercedes-Benz, now joins the S400 Hybrid (available here since November 2013) and the newly released S500e, with the GLE500e SUV expected in October.

Check out the Benz Velo below:

A photo posted by Cheki Ghana (@chekigh) on

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