TUSCALOOSA, Alabama – Mercedes-Benz officially launched mass production of the C-Class sedan today at its Alabama production facility, marking the first time the automaker’s U.S. plant has produced a sedan.
Meanwhile, media reports from Frankfurt, Germany said the automaker plans to significantly increase output at the Alabama plant from its current level of 185,000 vehicles per year. Reuters reported parent Daimler will “significantly” raise production capacity at the Tuscaloosa facility.
Alabama Governor Robert Bentley joined Mercedes officials and local leaders at today’s event, thanking the automaker and its workers for the contributions they have made to the state’s surging auto manufacturing sector.
“If it were not for Mercedes coming here 20 years ago, Alabama wouldn’t have the highly-skilled workers we have today,” Governor Bentley tweeted.
To produce the next-generation C-Class, Mercedes began hiring 1,000 workers for its Alabama plant. The automaker also plans to launch production of a small sport utility vehicle, creating an additional 400 jobs. Mercedes recently opened a $70 million logistics hub to support its production, creating 600 jobs.
Jason Hoff, head of the Mercedes operations in Alabama, told The Birmingham News/AL.com that the C-Class sedan represents “another leg on our stool,” rounding out a production line-up comprised of the R-Class crossover and the M-Class and GL-Class SUVs.
Hoff told the Birmingham Business Journal that the company’s Alabama production facility will remain busy for quite some time.
“Next year we’ll launch our fifth vehicle that will be based off of our SUV platform,” Hoff told the publication. “That’s the next big step we have coming at us, and we’re increasing our output and volume over the next year or two. We’ve got our plate full for the next couple of years.”