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Daimler and Fujian Motor executives officially opened the new center (Photo: Daimler)

Daimler's Chinese joint venture officially opened a new product development center for vans this week, as the German premium car and truck group continues to broaden the geographical spread of its operations.

The center, located in Fuzhou in southeastern China, houses a design and computation department, a proving ground, several component and complete-vehicle test rigs and an electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) lab. It also contains an exhaust gas lab, a prototype production department and an endurance testing workshop.

The joint venture spent 60 million euros on the facility.

"Our new product development center in Fuzhou is an important milestone in our ”˜Vans goes global’ growth strategy,” said Volker Mornhinweg, head of Mercedes-Benz Vans. He added that the product development center will supplement Daimler's manufacturing operations, which are building the Vito and Viano vans as well as a bus version of the Sprinter.

"This allows us to adapt our vans to local customer needs more effectively, and it demonstrates once again that we aim to be the global player among the world’s van manufacturers,” Mornhinweg said in a press release.

Western car and truckmakers need to make sure their products are suitable for the Chinese market. And given the size of this market, they are increasingly moving r&d and development resources there. Mercedes-Benz is the only premium manufacturer with van production and product development in China, the company noted.

"We’re extremely proud that we can now begin to develop vans locally here in China,” said Sascha Paasche, head of engineering at Mercedes-Benz Vans. "It’s a big advantage to be so close to the Chinese market and its customers."