KECSKEMET, Hungary – Mercedes-Benz said it will build a coupe-styled compact premium car at its new factory here, alongside its B-class model.
The four-door sporty sedan will be called the CLA and will debut as a concept at the Beijing auto show in April.
The sedan has been dubbed a "baby CLS" after the larger CLS car launched by Mercedes in 2004. The CLS created a niche for coupe-styled four-door sedans that Audi, with the A7, and BMW, with the 6-series Gran Coupe, have since joined.
"In April in Beijing, we will show the concept of what we call style coupe," Mercedes sales and marketing director Joachim Schmidt told an investor conference on Thursday at the opening ceremony of the new plant in Kecskemet, about 100km south of Budapest.
Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche said the automaker will improve the profitability of its compact cars by expanding the lineup from two models -- the A class and B class -- to five cars and building signiciantly higher volumes. Mercedes plans to add SUV and shooting brake versions to the range.
Daimler has invested 1.4 billion euros ($1.9 billion) to build a new generation of compact premium cars in cars in Hungary, Germany and China.
The automaker spent 800 million euros to build the Kecskemet plant and 600 million euros to expand its factory in Rastatt, Germany. Combined, Kecskemet and Rastatt will have an estimated capacity of about 450,000 vehicles, which would be equivalent to 35 percent of Mercedes car sales this year, according to data from IHS Automotive.
Daimler did not say when it will begin building the CLA, although press reports say production of the car will start at the end of the year and that it will arrive in showrooms early next year.
Mercedes said it has so far received more than 100,000 orders for the B class since its launch in Europe in November 2011. The B class is built in both Kecskemet and Rastatt.
The new A class, built in Rastatt, will go on sale in Europe in September and is scheduled to arrive in the United States in 2014.