Mercedes-Benz has announced that US contract manufacturer AM General will take over production of the R-Class from summer 2015 so that the Tuscaloosa plant in Alabama can build more SUVs.
AM General will build the R-Class at its plant in South Bend, Indiana, allowing Mercedes-Benz to use previous R-Class production capacity in Tuscaloosa for the M-Class, the GL-Class and the new GLE Coupé.
2015 will be the year of the SUV for Mercedes-Benz, as almost the entire SUV portfolio will be renewed: the M-Class and the GL-Class will receive a facelift and will be renamed GLE-Class and GLS-Class, respectively, while the GLE Coupé will hit the market in summer.
“With the introduction of the new GLE Coupé and the ongoing strong demand for SUVs, Plant Tuscaloosa needs all available production capacities for this segment,” said Jason Hoff, President and CEO of MBUSI (Mercedes-Benz U.S. International).
Production capacity of the Mercedes-Benz Tuscaloosa plant is planned to reach more than 300,000 units this year. In addition to the SUV models, the plant has started production of the new C-Class sedan in June 2014 as one of four global locations alongside the lead plant in Bremen, Germany, the South African plant in East London, and the Chinese production location Beijing Benz Automotive Co. Ltd. (BBAC).
The Mercedes-Benz R-Class has been offered exclusively in China since 2013. Available from the start as a long-wheelbase version with six or seven seats, the R-Class continues to be popular with Chinese customers.