Daimler opens first Benz plant in Eastern Europe

Daimler opens first Benz plant in Eastern Europe

BUDAPEST- Agence France-Presse
Daimler opens first Benz plant in Eastern Europe

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban (L), Daimler CEO Zetsche (C) and Mercedes Benz Manufacturing Hungary Director Klein (R) inspect a new Mercedes B-class vehicle during the official opening ceremony of the Daimler’s new factory in Kecskemet. REUTERS photo

German automaker Daimler opened its first Mercedes-Benz factory in Eastern Europe on March 29, a rare sign of foreign investor confidence in a country at odds with the European Union.

“We are making history today: less than four years after the location decision was made,” the plant’s managing director Frank Klein said at the official opening.

The state-of-the-art plant in Kecskemet, some 70 kilometres (45 miles) southeast of Budapest, is due to build up to 120,000 cars each year and employ at least 3,000 people at full capacity.

The 800-million-euro ($1.06-billion) plant could also give a significant boost to a struggling Hungarian economy fighting to avoid recession.

Also an alliance, says PM
 “This is not only an investment but also an alliance,” Prime Minister Viktor Orban said at the opening.
“The 800 million euros were money well spent,” added Mercedes-Benz chief executive Dieter Zetsche.

He also said the company was committed to educating the Hungarian workforce by creating training programmes in specialised schools and colleges. Hungary beat rival sites in Poland and Romania to strike a deal with Mercedes-Benz owner Daimler in 2008, and construction on the factory began a year later with test production kicking off last year. B-Class compacts have been rolling off the assembly line since then, but Mercedes said it plans to expand production to other models in the near future.