The Audi Q3 and BMW X1 will soon have a rival from Stuttgart in the premium compact crossover segment as Mercedes-Benz officially confirmed the development of an A-Class-based SUV.
Daimler Chief Executive Dieter Zetsche made the announcement during a conference at Mercedes' Rastatt plant in Germany on the start of production of the revamped A-Class hatchback.
"This start of production marks a further milestone in our Mercedes-Benz 2020 growth strategy. The A-Class represents our offensive in the compact segment," said Zetsche. "And there is more to come: The compact SUV will be the third model we will build here in Rastatt."
According to the grapevine, the upcoming A-Class SUV will likely be named GLA and will share a four-cylinder engine lineup with the hatchback model.
Mercedes-Benz said that the Rastatt plant will produce three of the five models in the expanded A-Class family including the hatchback, the B-Class as well as the compact SUV, with the other two models, including the CLA four-door coupe, to be built at the German firm's manufacturing facility in Kecskemét, Hungary.
The automaker said that it will invest further €600 million (US$731 million) in 2012 and next year for a second wave of expansion in addition to the €600 million (US$731 million) it has already spent for the production of the new compact models.
According to Mercedes, since the start of sales of the A-Class in mid-June, it has received more than 40,000 orders, while it has already delivered over 70,000 B-Class vehicles since its market launch in November 2011.
"Demand for our premium compact cars is so strong that we are going to introduce a third assembly shift in October 2012", said Peter Wesp, Head of the Mercedes-Benz Rastatt plant.