The Mercedes-Benz R-class SUV/minivan crossover shares many key suppliers with the recently launched second-generation M-class premium SUV. Both are built at Mercedes' US plant in Vance, Alabama.
German chassis specialist ZF Friedrichshafen supplies completely assembled front and rear axle modules for both vehicles from its factory in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, which is about 40km from Vance.
Delphi supplies the complete cockpit modules. "The module is probably the most sophisticated to reach production so far and a huge advance on the old M class that Delphi previously supplied," Delphi spokesman Richard Gotch says. Mercedes will build about 50,000 units of the R class annually.
Production of a third model - the G-class premium SUV - will begin in Vance this year.
At full production next year the plant's annual capacity will increase to about 130,000 units from about 80,000 units in 2001.