Mercedes-Benz is keen to increase its foothold in the world’s largest car market. The German company has therefore decided to boost its R&D facilities in Beijing, China, to accommodate 500 designers and engineers working across Advanced Design, Localization & Development, Telematics & Infotainment and the recently established Trends & Innovation departments.
In all, the company has invested roughly 865 million RMB ($140m) in the process, including about 105 million RMB ($17m) into the new site alone.
The new Advanced Design Studio in Beijing pursues Mercedes-Benz’s already established strategy and will be the centerpiece of the Daimler Product Engineering Center, with the new facility able to accommodate its growing design team — which is set to double in size from the current 20 full-time members — as well as full-size plates with which to develop full scale models. The new facility will also brings in new functions like Color & Trim and User Interface Experience design.
Daimler first began its push into the Chinese market in 2009 and subsequently opened its first Advanced Design Center in Beijing in 2011, an initiative that was led by Olivier Boulay who became Vice President of the new studio.
Under the leadership of Mercedes’ main design studio in Sindelfingen, the studio in Beijing creates design models and mobility concepts that incorporate and focus on local cultures and trends — most recently the company has been developing electric vehicles such as the Denza production electric car (a Daimler/BYD joint venture based in Shenzhen), which made its debut at the 2012 Beijing motor show. Boulay and his team also led the development of the 2010 Smart e-scooter.
Boulay will be replaced by Huey Lee, former Creative Director of Mercedes’ Advanced Design facility in California, who will lead the China studio into its next phase.
Worldwide, Daimler has a total of five such centers which serve as ‘seismographs’ for market-specific developments. The knowledge gained there is then incorporated into the technical concept and design of future models.
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