Mercedes extends work hours on S-class demand

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FRANKFURT (Bloomberg) -- Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz will work more hours next year to meet demand for new models.

To boost production of the S-class sedan, employees at the assembly plant in Sindelfingen, Germany, agreed to prolong shifts by an additional 74 minutes a day in 2014 after adding 30 minutes this year, Daimler said in a statement. The plant also already worked four Saturday shifts.

A factory in Bremen, Germany, has arranged 10 extra shifts for November and this month to build more GLK sport-utility vehicles and C-Class cars, the best-selling Mercedes sedan, the company said.

Mercedes' U.S. plant in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where the company builds SUVs, has operated 10 extra Saturdays.

Mercedes’ sales gains last month outpaced increases at larger competitors BMW and Audi, helped by a new version of the S class and an expanded range of compacts.

Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche has a goal for Mercedes to retake the lead in global premium-car deliveries by the end of the decade after the brand dropped to third place in 2011.

Following the S-class’s rollout in late July, Daimler plans to “continue to grow with our attractive offering of models, and will be able to accommodate the demand thanks to our high flexibility,” Andreas Renschler, head of manufacturing at Mercedes, said in the statement on Tuesday.

Eleven-month sales by Mercedes rose 11 percent from a year earlier to 1.32 million cars and SUVs, about matching the full-year record set in 2012, the company said Dec. 5. The brand outsold Audi for the first time this year in November.

Daimler added 21 shifts at its car plant in Rastatt, Germany, from January through November to build more compact models.

The company revised its A- and B-class models in the segment in 2012 and added the four-door CLA coupe in April.

Mercedes told its U.S. dealers earlier this month that supplies of the CLA will be limited in the first half of 2014 because of high global demand.

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