Daimler AG and Mercedes executives said at the Vance plant today that the automaker plans to begin producing a compact sport utility vehicle called the ML Coupe in Alabama beginning next year. Earlier this year, Mercedes began mass production of the redesigned C-Class in Vance, the first time it has produced a sedan in Alabama.
Daimler Chairman Dieter Zetsche told auto journalists today that the SUV market is expected to outpace growth in the overall automotive market, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. Production plans for the compact SUV had been previously announced.
“We’re calling 2015 the Year of the SUV for Mercedes and Tuscaloosa,” Zetsche said. “The market for these vehicles is only getting stronger.”
Mercedes has prepared for increased output in Alabama with a $2.4 billion investment that includes plans to increase its workforce in Vance by 1,400 employees. The automaker also added a $70 million logistics center on its campus.
In addition to the C-Class, the Alabama plant produces M-Class and GL-Class SUVs, along with the R-Class crossover.
Alabama Governor Robert Bentley, who was at the plant today, said Mercedes’ latest expansion in Tuscaloosa County is a tribute to both the state and its workers, according to a report in AL.com.
“When we see a business continuing to invest in Alabama and the people of Alabama, that’s the greatest compliment we could receive,” Governor Bentley said. “Most jobs are created by existing businesses, and when businesses grow here, we don’t forget about them.”
Mercedes also has been involved in innovative job-training programs in Alabama.