Mercedes-Benz has ambitious growth plans for its only U.S. plant.
According to internal plans obtained by Automotive News Europe, Mercedes plans to build 185,900 units at its plant in Vance, Alabama, in 2012 -- 30 percent more than projected 2011 levels.
Mercedes will begin a three-shift operation at the factory starting August 20, 2012. This will be to help meet market demand and begin preparation for the launch of the new C class, according to a letter to suppliers signed by Joerg Burzer, vice president purchasing and logistics, and Tonja Cochran, senior manager of supply chain management.
This year, production at Vance will rise to 143,000 units from 125,000 in 2010, according to market research firm IHS Automotive.
According to the internal plans, Mercedes will build 124,300 M class models (internal code W166) and 23,400 units of the R class (W251) in the factory next year.
The third model currently produced there is the GL SUV. It will be renewed in 2012. From the current generation (X164), Mercedes plans to produce 22,000 units in 2012. The production will end July 19. From the next-generation GL (X166), 16,200 units will be produced. Its start of production will be in June 2012.
In 2013, Mercedes expects to build 178,000 units in the factory – 7,900 units or 4 percent fewer than expected for 2012. The decrease derives from lower production plans for the R class (18,000 units) and M class (110,000 units) whereas the new GL is scheduled for 50,000 units.
At the same time, the plant will prepare for the launch of the new C class due in 2014. Last July, Mercedes parent, Daimler AG, approved more than $2 billion to upgrade and expand operations at the plant, which opened in 1997.