The seven-seat R class enjoys a loyal following in the Far East. A source told Automotive News that Mercedes production will be around or slightly over 10,000 units annually. Only the long-wheelbase version will be made.
Daimler chose a U.S. production site over China because of the existing supplier network. Moreover, it is easier to move the tooling to another U.S. site, the source said. The production run is indefinite and demand is strong enough to justify several more years of production.
AM General said its commercial assembly plant is a “full service manufacturing and support facility that utilizes state-of-the-art robotic welding, painting and assembly techniques coupled with a lean manufacturing culture and highly skilled workforce to meet the requirements of its customers.”
In another development, the UAW released a statement today praising Mercedes for moving the work to a UAW-represented operation. The union for years has been trying to organize workers at the Alabama plant.
“Mercedes-Benz's decision highlights the continued growth and expansion of the U.S. automotive industry and it is an affirmation of the skills and work ethic of our UAW Local 5 members," UAW Secretary-Treasurer Gary Casteel said in the statement. "We congratulate the company and employees on this positive new development."
The UAW noted the Alabama plant "is the only Daimler plant in the world that does not currently offer employee representation."
The union in October formed Local 112 to represent workers at the Mercedes plans.
“Investing in the future with UAW Local 5 members in Indiana is a clear signal that Mercedes-Benz and Daimler value employee representation,” Casteel said in the statement, adding the union represents 7,000 Daimler workers in North America. "We encourage Mercedes-Benz to move forward in Alabama by recognizing UAW Local 112 so the company and employees there can benefit from the same collaborative partnerships that power high-quality production at Daimler sites across the United States."