German automotive giant Daimler has announced the appointment of Andreas Engling as CEO of Mercedes-Benz South Africa (MBSA). He replaces Arno van der Merwe, 44, who, in April, will take up the reigns as president and CEO of Daimler’s Beijing Benz Automotive Company (BBAC) in China.

Van der Merwe will succeed Peter Schabert, 62, who is retiring after 31 years with Daimler – the past two of which have been spent at BBAC. In a statement, Hubertus Troska, a member of the Board of Management at Daimler, said Schabert had successfully increased the capacity, productivity and flexibility of the company’s plant in Beijing, and had overseen the production of Mercedes-Benz’s one-millionth vehicle in China.

“We are deeply grateful for his commitment in Germany and in China and we are now looking forward to the collaboration with Mr van der Merwe,” his statement read.

The South African will take with him to the East many years of experience in automotive production. “He brings valuable inspiration for the joint venture in China, thanks to his experience as CEO and Executive Director Manufacturing in South Africa. Colleagues in Beijing will benefit from his expertise and know-how, in particular at a stage when we are further increasing our capacities and flexibility,” said Markus Schäfer, a Member of the Divisional Board of Mercedes-Benz Cars.

Van der Merwe, who joined MBSA in 1996, has been CEO and Executive Director of Manufacturing since March, 2014. Prior to that, he held the position of plant leader at the company’s East London assembly facility.

During his tenure, the factory saw benchmark productivity increases and received six consecutive JD Power awards in the US market for quality excellence. Among a number of ground-breaking projects launched under Van Der Merwe’s management was the production of Mercedes-Benz C-Class plug-in hybrid models.

“It is an honour to have been entrusted with such an important role. The leadership team at BBAC has created an excellent foundation for growth and I am excited to be part of this ongoing journey of collaboration and teamwork,” he said when his appointment was announced.

Engling has been with the Daimler organisation for more than 30 years. He is currently Head of Engine Production for Daimler’s Untertürkheim plant in Germany and was previously the CEO of MDC Power, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Daimler AG.

“I am excited about this new opportunity to lead the East London plant further on its path of quality and productivity excellence. I look forward to working collaboratively with all stakeholders of the larger Mercedes-Benz South Africa group of companies and building on the rich heritage of the company, which has been operating in the country for more than 65 years,” he said.

BBAC is Daimler’s largest joint venture between the parent company and its Chinese partner, BAIC Motor, and has produced Mercedes-Benz vehicles since 2005 and engines since 2013. In terms of area, the factory is the largest Mercedes-Benz plant for passenger cars in the world.