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China's top award for Beijing Benz CEO

Updated: Nov 05, 2014 Print

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Frank Deiss and his Friendship Award, the highest honor for international experts working in China. [Photo / Provided to China Daily]

Honoring his years of contribution to China's economy and society, Frank Deiss, president and CEO of Beijing Benz Automotive Co Ltd, has earned the country's highest award for international experts - the Friendship Award.

The 51-year-old German was one of two foreign experts nominated by the Beijing municipal government to win the award as the Chinese government recognized 100 experts from 25 countries in September.

In an interview on Oct 30, Deiss said his company, also known as BBAC, has created about 4,200 new jobs since his appointment in 2011.

"We have over 10,000 people here now and we are growing further," Deiss said.

At BBAC's manufacturing site in Daxing district, a new assembly line is being prepared for local production of the new Mercedes-Benz GLA-Class compact SUV next year.

New welding and assembly shops for the Mercedes-Benz rear wheel architecture plant are coming online for the next generation of Mercedes vehicles. More jobs are set to be provided by the Sino-German joint venture.

"Production capacity is not the bottleneck at all. BBAC can expand if customer demand calls for it." Deiss said.

Daimler AG and its Chinese partner BAIC Motor Corporation Ltd - or BAIC Motor - agreed in March to put 1 billion euros ($794 million) into BBAC by 2015 for further expansion of local car and engine production.

In October, another 1-billion-euro deal was signed between the two shareholders for further localization of compact car models in the future.

As a part of the global production network, BBAC owns the first-ever Daimler engine plant outside Germany for Mercedes-Benz passenger cars. And it has started exporting three locally made engine components back to Germany - crankshafts, cylinder blocks and heads.

"This is proof that BBAC has the world's top-notch quality system. If this was not the case, the engine parts wouldn't be exported back to Germany," said Deiss.

"On quality, we don't compromise," he added.

Commitment to China

The major focus of BBAC is to build vehicles for the Chinese market, Deiss said.

The latest move was to launch the all-new long-wheelbase C-Class tailored for local customers.

"Look into the new welding shop for the all-new long-wheelbase C-Class - you will find exactly the same top-notch high-automation technology applied as any of our plants worldwide," Deiss said.

Deiss is glad to see that the long-wheelbase C-Class "production ramped up smoothly, and every quality parameter shows that we are on the right track".

In the local production of the all-new long-wheelbase C-Class, BBAC is using advanced Daimler technologies developed for the top S-Class. The China-made model is now made with more than 60 percent local components, much higher than earlier models.

In next year, Chinese customers will see the locally made GLA compact SUV hitting the market. Sales show SUVs are getting popular with the modern Chinese family.

Team is key

Deiss believes he has the strongest partner in the BAIC Group. BBAC is a joint venture between BAIC Motor and Daimler AG.

BAIC Motor is the fifth-largest automotive group in China, and Daimler is one of the most successful automotive groups in the world.

Deiss said his role is to build bridges between both cultures and companies. Many German experts have joined him to contribute their decades of experience and expertise to BBAC.

Deiss said the award is more for Beijing Benz and the close and strong cooperation between Daimler and BAIC Group.

The two companies have been linked since 2003.

"Because everyone is doing a great job, I do not see this award as a personal award for myself. I'm just one part of the great family," Deiss said.

Experts in Germany are also training Chinese employees from Beijing. One expert from Germany and one from Beijing work as a team to help the BBAC employee meet Daimler's world-level standards.

Thousands of Chinese employees have been sent to Germany for training from six weeks up to six months. After they are qualified, they come back to China and start extending the German standard to more Chinese employees.

Deiss and other German experts also strive to promote cultural exchanges.

He is responsible for identifying and selecting the right talent from Daimler coming to China. He judges not only their qualifications, but also their understanding of a joint venture culture.

"A qualified German expert needs not only quality in engineering. If they do not fit in the culture, he or she is not the right person," he said.

In China, the company is also working with universities and vocational schools for talent development.

BBAC has a very low turnover rate compared to the average among joint ventures in China, said the executive.

"I love to work with Chinese people. Chinese and German cultures are not far apart," said Deiss.


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