Beijing Benz Automotive, or BBAC, Daimler's joint venture with BAIC Motor, is making breakthroughs in China's premium car segment with its state-of-the-art facilities, effective management system and streamlined cooperation with its sales unit.
Last year, its production volume passed 300,000 vehicles for the first time, representing year-on-year growth of more than 30 percent, while sales reached 317,000 vehicles, year-on-year growth of 27 percent.
The figures, which placed the company second among premium joint ventures in the country by sales, accounted for almost 70 percent of Mercedes-Benz's sales in China, its largest market worldwide.
BBAC's performance played an important role in helping the inventor of automobiles regain its crown among premium brands around the world. The automaker's achievements in 2016 did not stop there.
The joint venture beat rivals in 13 countries to receive the Factory of the Year 2016 - Excellent Large Series Assembly award from German consulting company A. T. Kearney and Producktion. It is the only car manufacturer in China to have won the honor.
In November, BBAC celebrated its one-millionth vehicle rolling off the assembly line.
"These one million vehicles built with passion and pride illustrate the fast development happened here within just one decade," said Peter Schabert, president and CEO of the joint venture.
In December, BBAC held its cornerstone laying ceremony for the engine plant south, the second area of the plant, paving the way for the expansion of its passenger car platform.
Due to its accomplishments, the company won top accolades from the All-China Federation of Trade Unions in 2016.
Established in 2005, BBAC is also Daimler's only joint venture capable of producing powertrains, front-drive and rear-drive models. It is also the German car giant's largest passenger car plant worldwide, now producing the C-Class, E-Class, GLA and GLC models.
The all-new Mercedes-Benz E-Class L, which the company calls its "masterpiece of intelligence", has set a new benchmark in the premium executive sedan segment, with its innovative design and state-of-the-art intelligent-drive technologies.
Since rolling off the assembly line in June, it has received overwhelming feedback from the market, according to the company.
BBAC has been introducing Mercedes-Benz's class-leading technologies and has established a future-oriented intelligent manufacturing system. It also boasts Daimler's first overseas quality control center. Now the joint venture has staffed its workshops with thousands of robots, each of which is capable of recognition, responding to orders and communication.
Based on Daimler's "quality feedback loop", the automaker carries out digitalized monitoring and tracking in its production process through a series of world-class intelligent examination and surveillance systems.
All of the core data are synchronized and shared in real time with Daimler, which ensures that every Mercedes-Benz car reaches global quality standards.
The joint venture is functioning as a bridge to connect the Made in China 2025 strategy and German Industry 4.0 initiative.
Made in China 2025, which the Chinese government unveiled in 2015, is an ambitious 10-year plan for manufacturers that will initiate greener, more intelligent processes, and that emphasizes quality over costs.
The German Industry 4.0, or the fourth industrial revolution, refers to the trend of automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies.
BBAC has established an Industry 4.0-themed team consisting of experts from different departments. Based on its extensive industrial experiences, the team has introduced a project called predictive maintenance.
The project, now under trial operation in the joint venture's body shop, is capable of sending warnings eight hours before problems occur with an accuracy rate of 80 percent.
BBAC said one part of its core competitiveness is its lean management style, which ensures it can quickly respond to market demands with superior quality and efficiency.
Now the concept has become a critical part of its corporate culture. Last year, employees submitted nearly 9,000 proposals to further improve the joint venture's processes, which it believes to be a steady driving force of its development.
People are the foundation of its rapid development, according to Schabert, who said the company's current achievements are the result of BBAC's thorough and intensive nurturing of its employees training through comprehensive and systematic training mechanisms.
The company now boasts 2,600 senior level workers, including four chief technicians and about 80 senior technicians.
Since 2008, it has sent more than 1,200 employees to Germany to work on the assembly and other functions in Daimler plants. The employees came back to China and ignited BBAC's development.
The joint venture has since sent elite teams to help Daimler start new projects in Brazil in 2016 and South Africa in 2014.
Mercedes-Benz also attributes its rapid development in China to its integrated production and sales model. Beijing Mercedes-Benz Sales Service was established in 2013 as part of a package deal between Daimler and BAIC, becoming their key integrated sales organization.
The move has helped to rationalize the company's distribution network and enabled the brand to expand its presence across the country. Close and effective communication has eased the process for BBAC and the sales company to allocate resources more efficiently and cut the time needed to deliver finished vehicles.
Thanks to these efforts, Mercedes-Benz has seen its China sales grow for 46 months in a row.
The German automaker has now topped Ipsos Group's dealership satisfaction rankings of premium brands in China for two years in a row, a jump from sixth place in 2013.
Most of its roughly 500 dealership partners in China, 50 percent of which have been in operation for under three years, were profitable in 2016, a better result than most of the industry.
The one-millionth locally produced Mercedes-Benz manufactured by BBAC rolls off the production line in November 2016. Photos Provided To China Daily
BBAC's stellar lineup. The joint venture's sales account for 70 percent of Mercedes-Benz's sales in China in 2016.