The FINANCIAL -- Mercedes-Benz is reorganizing its SUV production and will expand production capacities in the USA. The U.S. contract manufacturer AM General will join the production network of Mercedes-Benz Cars, producing the R-Class in South Bend, Indiana, in the future. Production capacities at the Mercedes-Benz Tuscaloosa plant (Mercedes-Benz U.S. International – MBUSI), which will be gradually be released in this process, will then be used for the M-Class, the GL-Class and the new GLE Coupé due in summer, according to Daimler AG.
“Within our growth strategy we are expanding our global production network and will additionally use the capacities of a contract manufacturer. We are thus increasing flexibility and continue to improve our competitiveness,” says Markus Schäfer, Member of the Divisional Board Mercedes-Benz Cars, Manufacturing and Supply Chain Management.
2015 will be the year of the SUV for Mercedes-Benz. Almost the entire SUV portfolio will be renewed: the M-Class and the GL-Class will receive a facelift - in line with the new Mercedes-Benz nomenclature the previous model designations will then be replaced by GLE-Class and GLS-Class, respectively. In addition, the GLE Coupé will hit the market in summer as an entirely new model. Mercedes-Benz expects additional sales momentum in 2015 from this product offensive.
“With the introduction of the new GLE Coupé and the ongoing strong demand for SUVs, Plant Tuscaloosa needs all available production capacities for this segment,” Jason Hoff, President and CEO of MBUSI said.
Production capacity of the Mercedes-Benz Tuscaloosa plant is planned to reach more than 300,000 units this year. Previous R-Class capacity will be used for the other SUV model lines. In addition to the SUV models, the plant has been producing the new C-Class sedan since June 2014 - as one of four global locations in a production network with the lead plant in Bremen, Germany, the South African plant in East London, and the Chinese production location Beijing Benz Automotive Co. Ltd. (BBAC), according to Daimler AG.
“Starting in the U.S. with production of one model in 1997 to four models today and soon to be five models in 2015, we are proud that our plant here in Tuscaloosa, Alabama continues to grow and change – always embodying our tradition of producing best in class vehicles,” Hoff said.
The Mercedes-Benz R-Class has been offered exclusively in China since 2013. The model series, which has been available in China from the outset as a long version with six or seven seats, continues to be popular with Chinese customers. Contract manufacturing at AM General is planned to start in summer 2015, according to Daimler AG.