FRANKFURT -- Daimler AG will add a fifth model at its U.S. auto assembly plant near Tuscaloosa, Alabama, company sources told Automotive News Europe. The model will be a coupe-styled variant of the Mercedes-Benz M class SUV, with production likely to start as soon as 2015, the sources said.
The new M-class body style will be positioned against the BMW X6 built in Spartanburg, South Carolina, and likely will be called MLC. Last year, BMW globally sold 46,404 units of the X6 and 102,178 of its sibling model, the X5, also built in Spartanburg.
Mercedes' internal development code for the new M-class variant is C166.
Mercedes builds the M-, R- and GL-Class at the Tuscaloosa factory and will add production of the C-class sedan starting in 2014 for North American customers.
On Thursday, Daimler said it will spend than $2 billion for upgrading and expanding operations at Tuscaloosa. The investment will pay for the plant to begin building the C class, and also to retool for new generations of the R class and G class.
The investment comes as Mercedes battles German rival BMW for the title of best-selling luxury brand in the United States, following an 11-year reign by Toyota's Lexus. Through June, BMW sold 113,705 of its namesake vehicles in the United States. Mercedes, not counting its Sprinter commercial vans, had 110,926 sales. Lexus, hampered by the March earthquake in Japan, sold 88,010 cars.