Next generation model could be moved to the US
16 November 2009

Mercedes is set to add the fourth generation C-class saloon to the list of cars it already produces at its Tuscaloosa plant in Alabama as part of a program aimed at combating sagging profitability in its second biggest market.

With the continued strength of the Euro against the US dollar eating into margins on models produced in Germany and sold in the US, Mercedes-Benz insiders say efforts are underway to provide protection from unfavourable currency exchange rates in the form of increased North American production.

“We’ve reached a window of opportunity where we can now consider producing the next C-class in the US,” a source revealed to Autocar. “We’re mid-cycle on the W204 (the current C-class) and need to decide if we want to push ahead with its successor at Tuscaloosa.”

Mercedes-Benz already produces the M-, R- and GL-class at Tuscaloosa – a plant opened in 1997 and subsequently expanded in 2005 to meet growing demand.

But with sales of large SUVs down in most markets owing to the depressed state of the economy, the currency balancing effects of US production are not as significant as they have been in recent years, leading the German car maker to consider the addition of other models.

The earmarking of the next C-class saloon, due out in 2014, for North American production is significant as it could ultimately pave the way for other mechanical similar models, including the GLK, to be built there.

However, it would come as major blow to Mercedes-Benz’s worker union which fought hard to ensure production of left-hand drive versions of the current C-class saloon remained in Germany despite high labour costs.

Additional North American production would unlikely effect the UK as right-hand drive versions of the C-class saloon are sourced from Mercedes-Benz’s East London plant in South Africa, while the GLK is only available in left-hand drive form owing to difficulties in re-engineering its four-wheel drive system for right-hand drive applications.

Greg Kable

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Comments
8

16 November 2009

“We’re mid-cycle on the W204 (the current C-class)"

Does this mean that after being on sale for only 2 years the current model will be replaced in 2011? And there was me thinking that most Mercs had a 7yr life cycle which would see the new C-Class appear in 2014!

16 November 2009

[quote Lanehogger]

“We’re mid-cycle on the W204 (the current C-class)"

Does this mean that after being on sale for only 2 years the current model will be replaced in 2011? And there was me thinking that most Mercs had a 7yr life cycle which would see the new C-Class appear in 2014!

[/quote]

I think they're including 3 years of R&D, which would make it mid-cycle.

"it could ultimately pave the way for other mechanical similar models, including the GLK, to be built there."

Isn't the CLC the most mechanically similar vehicle in Merc's line-up? It woulod probably do well in the states too as a 'college' car.

Let's hope whatever they do, they don't make the same mistakes of the first M-class.

16 November 2009

[quote Mart_J]Let's hope whatever they do, they don't make the same mistakes of the first M-class.[/quote]

I know what you mean - not just one of the worst built Mercs, but one of the worst built cars ever with woeful tolerances and dreadful interior quality. Set the template for Mercs of that era, which thankfully appear to have been eradicated since about 6-7 yrs ago!

16 November 2009

[quote Mart_J]Isn't the CLC the most mechanically similar vehicle in Merc's line-up? It woulod probably do well in the states too as a 'college' car.[/quote]

l0l College car what college did you go to when I was at uni most people had rubbish saxos, astras, corsas and the odd few had very high millage pimped up Golfs and BMs on a S reg.

I think you mean its a college car for the spoilt brats in Beverley Hills 90210 and THE oc

16 November 2009

The C-classes built in the East London plant have only two destinations: South Africa and the USA. So it'll be interesting to see where the USA bound W205s will REALLY be built when the decision is made early next year.

R32

16 November 2009

[quote Mart_J]

I think they're including 3 years of R&D, which would make it mid-cycle.

[/quote]

3 years of R&D for a car with a four-year market life - surely not?

16 November 2009

Maybe they mean mid-cycle for the current shape W204, and then in 2-years time they will give it a facelift, rather than full replacement?

4-years would be about right for a car before it needs a facelift

17 November 2009

[quote R32]

[quote Mart_J]

I think they're including 3 years of R&D, which would make it mid-cycle.

[/quote]

3 years of R&D for a car with a four-year market life - surely not?

[/quote]

I think this is what he is trying to say:

3 years R&D + 7 year market life = 10 years

Therefore, mid-cycle = 5 years, which is where we would be now with 3 years of R&D and 2 years on sale.

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