STUTTGART -- Mercedes-Benz plans to build its GLK SUV in China, part of the German automaker's effort to gain share in one of China's fastest-growing product segments.
"Within a reasonable period of time, the GLK compact SUV will also be built in China for Chinese customers," said Mercedes sales chief Joachim Schmidt in an interview with Automobilwoche, a sister publication of Automotive News Europe.
So far, Mercedes has manufactured the C- and E-class model lines in a joint venture with the Chinese firm Beijing Automotive Industry Holding Co.
An engine factory is also planned as part of Daimler's 3 billion euro (about $4.1 billion) investment in China.
Last year, Mercedes sold 147,700 vehicles in China, a 115-percent increase on 2009. A total of 12,500 vehicles were GLKs built in Germany. By 2015, the volume is due to climb to 300,000 units.
The compact SUV segment is likely to grow significantly in China. Consultancy IHS Automotive expects the niche to increase from 408,000 vehicles in 2010 to 586,000 in 2013.
The GLK could then reach 17,000 units in 2013. By comparison, rival Audi's Q5 SUV will likely achieve sales of 39,000 units, while the BMW X3, an import, stagnates at 5,000 units.