Mercedes will build the next G class in the U.S.

Mercedes-Benz will build a fourth model at its Vance, Ala., plant starting 2006.

"We will be manufacturing a fourth model here from next year onwards," said Eckhard Cordes, head of the Mercedes Car Group.

Company executives say that the model is the successor to the G class and will be called the GL. Its project name is X164.

The other three models built at the plant are the M class SUV and the long and short variants of the new R-class sport wagon.

Mercedes sold about 6,400 units of the 26-year-old G class in 2004. The classic SUV will continue to be built at Magna Steyr in Graz, Austria, until at least until 2007 because "we still have a few army orders to deal with," said Cordes.

The G-class successor, which like the R class is based on the M-class design, will be longer than the S class sedan with a length of 204 inches and have a third row of seats.

The new G class will debut at the Detroit auto show next January and its market launch will be mid 2006. The basic price will be around 56,000 euros, or about $72,000 at current exchange rates.

Mercedes doubled the capacity at the plant to 160,000 units for the launch of the R class. The number of employees will be increased from 2,000 to 4,000 by the end of this year.

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