Daimler plans increasing capacity in North America

Article by Eugene Conan, on March 7, 2014

Daimler AG is considering adding production capacity in North America for both its compact and rear-wheel drive models, according to chief executive Dieter Zetsche. Zetsche said on the sidelines of the Geneva Motor Show that the plans are still in "very early" stages for the rear-wheel drive vehicles and "it is totally open." here.

Mercedes-Benz just commenced producing the redesigned rwd C-class sedan in Alabama, mainly targeted to the United States market. Alabama currently builds the all-wheel drive M and GL-class crossovers, and will start producing a M-class coupe crossover in 2015.

To address the shortage of front-wheel drive cars, Mercedes-Benz is adding shifts and outsourcing some output to Valmet in Finland. The carmaker is already experiencing shortages of the CLA sedan in the United States, which won’t probably be remedied until early summer. Mercedes to globally sell 500,000 units of front-wheel drive models this year from 370,000 in 2013.

The carmaker will start selling the B-class electric drive battery electric car in the United States in July and the GLA crossover in summer. According to Zetsche, there will be more variants with the new generation of the front-wheel drive family.

"Independent of what we are planning mid-term, for the next generation front-wheel drive (cars) we need additional plant capacity with probably a new location," Zetsche said. Mercedes plans to produce the front-wheel drive vehicles in the NAFTA zone, which includes Mexico where the carmaker has been mulling joint production at a Nissan site.

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