Earlier this week, Daimler announced it’s investing more than $2 billion USD to increase production capacities of its Tuscaloosa, Alabama plant. That’s not surprising, considering the Mercedes-Benz U.S. International (MBUSI) plant will build the next-generation C-Class for the North American market beginning in 2014.
This marks the first occasion the C-Class will be built in North America, but it’s hardly the first time the car has been built outside of Germany. Presently, the small Mercedes sedan is built not only in Bremen, Germany, but also in East London, South Africa; and Beijing, China.
Founded in 1995 primarily to build the company’s M-Class SUV, MBUSI Mercedes-Benz’s first step towards a complete vehicle assembly plant in North America. Production of the M-Class SUV began in 1997, and production of the GL- and R-Class lines were added in the years following.
“We’re continuing to write new chapters of the plant’s success story with significant investments into the future,” said Dr. Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Daimler Board of Management and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars, during a celebration at the plant on July 20. “Tuscaloosa was the first production location of Mercedes-Benz Cars ever outside Germany, and today it is among our best. As our ‘pioneering plant,’ it is also the blueprint for our new operations in emerging markets.”
Zetsche went on to praise the 2800 employees of MBUSI, thanking them for their hard work at the plant over the past 14 years. The Tuscaloosa plant built more than 125,000 vehicles in 2010.
Daimler’s announcement follows Audi’s declaration that it plans to open a manufacturing facility in North America to better serve the local market, and provide a hedge against currency fluctuations, which can affect profit margins and vehicle prices.