Mercedes Benz van manufacturing plant in Dusseldorf celebrates 50th anniversary

The Dusseldorf Plant of Mercedes Benz is celebrating its 50th anniversary. The past 50 years has seen over 3.5 million vans roll off its production lines, which has a daily production of 700 vans. The plant works in three shifts and is well on its way to create history. Mercedes Benz Dusseldorf plant lies on a 688,000 sq meter plot and offers employment to 6,600 staff and 200 apprentices.

Through ages, the Dusseldorf plant has been a significant part of Mercedes Benz history every since it was commissioned in 1962. In those early days the O 319 mini bus was produced from the plant. Back then, the plant had a capacity to produce 27,000 vehicles per annum.

By the start of the 70s, production capacity increased drastically and in the early 80s, the Breman van and T1 van was put into production and so was the T2. During the 90s, the 1 millionth van rolled out and now in the new millennium three millionth van came out of the production line.

The plant began working in three shifts. In November 2003, the Dusseldorf plant produced its 1 millionth Sprinter. The company looks forward to the future 50 years will as much hope and aspiration.

Press Release

50 years of the Düsseldorf van production plant

More than 3.5 million vans over a period of 50 years and daily production of around 700 vans in three shifts – in its anniversary year, the Düsseldorf plant is on course to set new records.

The second-largest industrial employer in Germany’s major Rhineland city currently employs around 6600 staff and 200 apprentices. Mercedes-Benz’s largest van production plant covers a total area of around 688,000 square metres – the equivalent of about 1100 football pitches.

Principal production plant for Mercedes-Benz Vans

As the principal van production plant for Mercedes-Benz Vans, the Düsseldorf plant has a lead function among the Daimler Group’s van plants, which include further sites in Ludwigsfelde, near Berlin, Vitoria in the Spanish Basque region, Argentina, the US and China. Volker Mornhinweg, Head of Mercedes-Benz Vans: “Düsseldorf is a hugely significant site for us – not just because of its size, but as our principal van production plant, with a clear responsibility to take the lead in terms of quality, engineering and logistics.”

A look back at the history of the Düsseldorf plant

Automotive production at the Düsseldorf site began in 1950, when Auto Union AG began producing passenger cars on what had once been the site of the engineering company Rheinmetall AG.

The sixties: first beginnings, in 1962

The L 319 in the livery of Berlin’s municipal sanitation services.
Production of Mercedes-Benz vans began in 1962 when the then Daimler-Benz AG took over the site. Core products from the Düsseldorf plant were the L 319 van, which had been built up to that point at the Sindelfingen site, and the O 319 minibus derived from it, previously built in Mannheim. The site also produced steering systems for passenger cars and commercial vehicles with the three-pointed star.

The “Düsseldorfer”: the L 406 D panel van, 1971.

Production of the next generation of vans began in Düsseldorf in 1967: the L 406 D (diesel engine) and the L 408 (petrol model). Derived from these was the O 309 minibus. These models very quickly became known as “Düsseldorf vans” or, quite simply, as “Düsseldorfers”. And the “Düsseldorfer” was a success: annual production had risen by 1969 to around 27,000 vehicles, almost twice that of the previous range.
The seventies: Düsseldorf becomes main production plant for vans

Early summer 1977: the 300,000th van from Düsseldorf.

By the early nineteen seventies, work at the plant was concentrated on the production of vans and steering systems, with all other components relocated to other sites. The 300,000th van came off the line at the plant in 1977, as did the six millionth steering system.

The second half of the same decade saw the Bremen plant, which had also been a van production plant since being taken over from Hanomag-Henschel ten years earlier, become a passenger car production location. Production of vans was transferred from Bremen to Düsseldorf, making the Rhineland plant Mercedes-Benz’s principal van production facility.

Gate 1 of the Düsseldorf plant in the nineteen eighties.

The Bremen van becomes a Düsseldorfer: the T1 van had been built since 1977 at the Bremen plant. Initially positioned in the gross vehicle weight range of 2.55 to 3.5 tonnes, work began in 1980 at the Düsseldorf plant to produce new heavy-duty T1 models with a gross vehicle weight of 4.6 tonnes. In 1986, the year that marked the 100th anniversary of the invention of the automobile, a new large van, the T2, replaced the “Düsseldorfer” after almost 20 years. The core components that went to make up the cab were taken from the truck product range – the T2 was an early beneficiary of the modular design concept.

The nineties: commencement of Sprinter production in 1994

The “wedding station” on the Sprinter production line: the pre-assembled drive system is united with the bodyshell.

The Düsseldorf plant’s one millionth van was produced on 14 May 1990. The 15,000,000th steering system left the plant at around the same time. Production of the T2 was transferred from Düsseldorf to Ludwigsfelde, near Berlin, in the early part of the decade, leaving a proud legacy that included the figure of 90,000 units built. Production of the Sprinter began in Düsseldorf in 1994 following construction of a new painting plant and new body-in-white and assembly lines.

A new millennium: the three millionth van leaves the production line

In September 2000, a new night shift marked the introduction of a third shift. Production increased as a result to more than 500 Sprinters per day and, in November 2003, the Düsseldorf plant produced its one millionth Sprinter. Comprehensive preparations for the introduction of its successor began as a parallel process. The assembly shop, for example, remained fully operational throughout the alteration work.

The second-generation Sprinter has been produced in Düsseldorf since early 2006. A high level of demand for the NCV3 led to another change: the closed models – panel van and crewbus – are now manufactured in Düsseldorf, while the open models, such as chassis and pickups, are produced in Ludwigsfelde.

The three millionth van was produced at the Düsseldorf plant in 2008.