Mercedes-Benz has had a new SUV hidden up its sleeve for 3 and a half years.
Last week it revealed that its Vance, Ala., plant will begin building a third vehicle next year: a full-sized, three-row SUV.
Officials haven't let the cat all the way out of the bag, remaining mum on details such as the vehicle's name, appearance, launch schedule and sales target.
The vehicle will be based on the architecture of the redesigned M class, which debuted in April. The M class was converted from a traditional truck platform to a carlike unibody design to compete with products such as the BMW X5 and Lexus RX 330.
The Vance plant began building the new R-class sport wagon this month and is producing fewer than 20 a day. M-class production is running at about 380 a day.
A Mercedes spokesman said the company decided to leave the third Alabama vehicle out of public discussions because there were so many new products hitting the market this year. In addition to the R-class and M-class entries, Mercedes also will introduce B-class and S-class models.