Mercedes Will Build Next-Gen C-Class in the U.S.
Citing the need to maintain its overall competitiveness, utilize growth opportunities presented around the world and protect jobs in Germany over the long term, the Board of Management of Daimler AG has confirmed that it will build the next generation of its C-Class for the North American market at its existing assembly facility in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Completed in 1996, the ultra-modern plant currently is home to the M-Class, R-Class and GL-Class. Dr. Dieter Zetsche, chairman of the board of Management of Daimler AG and head of Mercedes-Benz Cars, said that the decision to move at least some of the production for the redesigned C-Class that's due in 2014 closer to where it will be sold was the most logical and effective way to make Daimler more independent of exchange rates, optimize its profitability in an increasingly price-sensitive segment and allow the automaker to respond even more quickly and flexibly to regional customer requirements. Zetsche further noted, "This decision will also help to protect employment at our sites in Germany over the long term. Germany is and will remain at the heart of our production network." To that end, M-B will continue the majority of its future C-Class sedan production for European markets and of other C-Class model versions at the Bremen plant, which it says will remain the "competence center" for this high-volume series.
Rainer Schmuckle, chief operating officer of Mercedes-Benz Cars, expanded on Zetsche's statement, noting that: "Due to the tough competition in the C-Class segment, it is extremely important for us to optimize our production costs for the future. This applies not only to our direct production costs, but also to the import-duty and logistics advantages of each production site. But it is just as important for us to be able to offer alternatives to the Sindelfingen C-Class employees affected by this decision in order to maintain their employment. We are convinced that our concept fulfills this criterion."