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I returned from Germany about a month ago now. Sorry for the delay in posting!
There are no pictures from the Test Track at Unterturkheim, the Mercedes-Benz Engine Production Plant in Cannstatt, or from inside the AMG factory in Affalterbach, which were certainly some of the best parts of the trip. Mercedes closely guards their secrets and we were not allowed to take pictures there. I have included an old stock picture from Unterturkheim because I couldn’t put into words what we got to experience there!
The Engine Plant was striking in how clean and efficient it was. They pride themselves on high standards for the workers, including a 35-hour workweek, over a month of paid vacation, facilities that are non-toxic and empowering the workers to fix things and stop problems. Here the engines start down the production line and both the workers and the robots add parts, adjust tolerances and test the components. I found it very interesting that the engines come down the line mixed together. It isn’t 200 right-hand-drive V-6′s one day and 200 diesel V8′s the next. It is one of each of whatever is needed. They are currently expanding the facility because they also produce engines for some of our competitors and demand has grown.
At AMG, the facilities are just as impressive but the production of the engines is kind of opposite. The block is mounted to a cart and the single technician moves that cart from station to station adding the components and testing as he goes. After the engine is complete all of the V12 engines and a selection of the V8′s go to the test bench and are put through their paces. We saw a V12 race around the track virtually and it shook the room! At this location they also do customization for an elite clientele. We saw elongated G-wagons, an ML with a royal blue and yellow interior and a CL with more security features that an embassy!
The day we were scheduled to go to the Production Plant in Sindelfingen the plant closed for a meeting! (The meeting was to discuss reducing production by 35,000 units for the rest of the year.) We were able to go to the European Delivery Center in Sindelfingen instead and see where our clients would pick up their vehicle. In Germany it is popular to pick up your new vehicle from the factory rather than the local dealership!
I had not been to Germany before and was surprised by the beautiful countryside and vineyards. It reminded me of upstate New York in the fall. The trip was a wonderful mix of the Mercedes production and history I was looking forward to and a tour of Germany that I wasn’t expecting. Thank you to Mercedes-Benz Training and Education for arranging the trip and to Fred Schoeninger, our fantastic guide!
I’ve always told people that once you buy a Mercedes you’ll have trouble driving anything else! These loyalty numbers for the 2nd Quarter of 2008 were just released.
This means that more than 51% of Mercedes owners who purchased or leased a new vehicle chose another Mercedes! This information comes from reported vehicle registrations.
I’m working on getting some posts up of the photos I took while on the Mercedes Master Guild trip to Germany last week.
I’m flying to Stuttgart this afternoon for my Mercedes-Benz Master Guild trip. I’ll be back in a week and I’ll post a bunch of photos.
You may remember that last November I won the C-Class Walk-Around Competition for all of the dealerships in the Southern Region. Mercedes has just published a DVD showing my presentation along with the 3 other regional winners. This DVD has been sent to all US dealerships and will be used as a training example.
Before you watch the video, it’s important to know that we were given a theoretical customer to tailor our presentation to. My customer was Art Vandelay (someone likes Seinfeld), an Architect with a wife and new baby.
I can hardly wait!
The 2008 JD Power Initial Quality Study measures new owner satisfaction after 90 days. In the last few years Mercedes has been moving to the top of the charts! This year, in addition to being #4 overall, Mercedes received several model segement awards and a prestigious Platinum Plant Quality Award for the Sigdelfingen assembly plant.
“The Mercedes-Benz assembly plant in Sindelfingen, Germany, receives the Platinum Plant Quality Award for producing vehicles yielding the fewest defects and malfunctions. Averaging just 33 problems per 100 vehicles, the plant produces the Mercedes-Benz CL-Class, CLS-Class, E-Class Sedan, E-Class Wagon and S-Class.”
Compact Premium Sporty Car
Highest Ranked: Mercedes-Benz CLK-Class
Midsize Premium Car
Highest Ranked: Mercedes-Benz E-Class (tie)
I am pleased to announce that I have been chosen to receive Master Guild Recognition this year! There are four levels of achievement with Mercedes-Benz — Certified, Star Certified, Master Certified and finally, Master Guild. The first three levels are based on time with the company, keeping up with certification requirements and attending training classes. Master Guild members must already be Master Certified and then are chosen by the Regional Managers. Only 160 employees from the whole US market are picked for this recognition each year!
This also means I will be traveling to Germany!
“In recognition of this achievement, these individuals will be invited to participate in an all expense paid, once in a lifetime trip to Germany, an extraordinary opportunity through which they will experience the heritage and passion behind the Mercedes-Benz brand. Participants will visit various Mercedes-Benz facilities in Stuttgart, the birthplace of Mercedes-Benz, as well as be immersed in the local culture, history and traditions.”
It looks I’ll be making the trip in October but I’ll post more details when it’s finalized.
For the 2nd year I’ve achieved Mercedes-Benz Master Certification
Mercedes-Benz USA sponsored a competition this fall for salespeople to present the new 2008 C-Class. The goal was to increase product knowledge while tailoring a 10 minute walk-around presentation to the interests of a specific client.
I was selected by my peers to represent Atlanta Classic Cars at the Market Level in September and was chosen by our Market Manager as the winner! Then, in November, I flew to Jacksonville to compete against the other 8 Market winners for the title of Grand Champion of the Southern Region. I won! It was quite an honor to present to all of the Market Managers and fellow competitors.
If you have any questions about the new C-Class this would be a great time to ask…I could talk your ear off!