Daimler has announced its plans to build a new Research and Development (R&D) Technology Centre in Beijing, with a total investment of over 1.1 billion RMB (approximately US$160mn).
It marks the further expansion of the company’s footprint in its single largest market and will become its second major R&D site in China, following the Mercedes-Benz R&D Centre established in 2014. Located on the premises of the local production hub Beijing Benz Automotive Co. Ltd. (BBAC), the R&D Tech Centre will allow Daimler to accelerate the localisation of new Mercedes-Benz products in China.
Scheduled to start operations in 2020, the R&D Tech Centre’s proximity to the production hub will enable the integrated campus concept of local production with R&D, through the existing pilot plant, test track and test benches at BBAC, together and new test labs and workshops at the R&D Tech Centre for testing in new energy vehicle technology, powertrain and chassis, emissions and in-vehicle air quality.
“We remain positive for further growth opportunities in China, our largest market, and will continue with our investment here,” explained Hubertus Troska, Member of the Board of Management, Daimler AG, responsible for Greater China.
“Together with BAIC Group, we announced earlier this year to further expand with a second production plant in Beijing in preparation for future Mercedes-Benz products, including battery-electric vehicles. Now, we will further invest in the establishment of a second R&D facility, which we believe will help us to even better understand the market demands and accelerate the localisation of our products to further delight Chinese customers.”
Prof Hans Georg Engel, Head of Mercedes-Benz Research & Development China said, “Daimler has been expanding its R&D activities here for over a decade. Playing increasingly a driving role in areas such as automated driving, connectivity and electric drive, the China team has become a key player in our global R&D network. The R&D Tech Centre marks a milestone in our local R&D efforts and will further ensure successful R&D activities with reliable, efficient and sufficient resources, enabling us to even better adapt to market-specific requirements.”
Arno Van der Merwe, President and CEO of Beijing Benz Automotive Co. Ltd., commented: “At BBAC we strive to localise ‘Made in China, for China’ Mercedes-Benz models up to Daimler’s global standards for our local customers. The proximity of the R&D Tech Centre to BBAC and its integrated facilities will enable us to utilise existing and new resources at BBAC and to apply R&D achievements to the local production process with greater efficiency.”
Covering a gross floor area of 55,000 m2, the Daimler R&D Tech Centre China will consist be capable of accommodating up to 600 employees, while the two-story test building will include a warehouse and parking area for 250 test vehicles. It will house a wide-array of cutting-edge test facilities for overall vehicle and component testing, ranging from electric drive and charging, powertrain, chassis, in-vehicle air quality, emission to noise, vibration and harshness (NVH), as well as a consolidated workshop for all functions including overall vehicle and endurance testing.
New test labs will have the capacity to carry out a wide-range of basic to complex tests, such as system calibration, durability and thermodynamics. The facilities will incorporate road simulators and climate simulation, making testing as accurate and as optimized as possible.
Customer satisfaction has long been Daimler’s primary goal and the automaker has been employing local R&D to enhance localization in China since 2005 with the first localized Mercedes-Benz E-Class. In 2009, Mercedes-Benz became the first German premium car manufacturer to open an Advanced Design Studio in China. To better learn the tastes of Chinese consumers and develop products that best fit local demand, the Mercedes-Benz Research & Development China Centre was opened in Beijing in 2014. Additional R&D facilities were established at Daimler’s local joint ventures, including a test track and test benches at Beijing Benz Automotive (BBAC), and the first R&D facility for Mercedes-Benz Vans outside Germany at Fujian Benz Automotive (FBAC) in Fuzhou.