Mercedes-Benz's plant near Tuscaloosa, Ala., will start production of C-Class sedans in 2014. In a statement by Daimler AG Chairman Dieter Zetsche, who heavily participated in the rise of the Alabama plant project as a fast-rising executive in 1993, said that the US operation will consist of about 20% of the vehicle's global production.
The models that are made at the Tuscaloosa plant include Mercedes-Benz crossovers and SUVs, the M-Class, R-Class and GL. During the past decade, the plant had several expansions to cope with the demand for large vehicles.
However, the economic crisis has led to the underutilization of the plant for about two years.
Rainer Schmuckle, COO for Mercedes-Benz Cars, said that the move to the Alabama plant would help Mercedes in the fierce competition in the C-Class segment by lowering direct production costs as well as gaining "import duty and logistics advantages."
Before the company decided to add C-class production, it had already been speculated since last year due to the Alabama plant's problems related to reduced volumes and staff reductions.
The impact of shifting C-Class to the US will be significant so it would mean that the company has to shift some products in Germany in order to protect jobs.
European C-Class production from the Mercedes Sindelfingen plant will be consolidated at the company's plant in Bremen. Bremen will then be handing off assembly of the SL roadster to Sindelfingen. [via autonews - sub. required]