"I wish I could get more," Cannon said. "2016 looks better for our production capacity. So we'll be able to get more trucks in '16."
Through August, Mercedes-Benz is slightly outpacing the rest of the luxury utility vehicle market. U.S. sales of the brand's luxury crossovers and SUVs rose 18.7 percent, just ahead of the segment's 17.6 increase, according to the Automotive News Data Center.
"There's one word to describe this market right now, and it's trucks, it's SUVs," Cannon said. "All the growth in the market, in both the regular mass market and the luxury market, is coming from trucks."
With the investment, the Alabama plant will add 300 jobs and a body shop. It will expand the utility vehicle assembly shop and improve logistics and information technology systems, all to build future generations of crossovers and SUVs, including hybrid versions.
For the 2016 model year, Mercedes freshened and renamed the GLE, which formerly was known as the M class. It also added a GLE coupe variant to the lineup.
For the 2017 model year, Mercedes is freshening and renaming the GL. It will be called the GLS and is expected to go on sale in early 2016.
Plug-in hybrids are a big part of the brand's plans for utility vehicles. It will build plug-ins across the lineup. The GLE got a plug-in variant this year.
"We need plug-ins, and this kind of car is a perfect combination," Andreas Zygan, Mercedes director of development for SUVs, said in Frankfurt. "Each segment, there will be a plug-in."
Mercedes also is considering whether to develop and build an ultraluxury crossover or SUV, potentially under its Maybach subbrand. (See story above.) It's unclear where it would be built or on what platform, but that could be another possibility for the Alabama plant.
Daimler provided no time frame for the expansion nor said how much production volume would increase. The plant produced around 232,000 vehicles in 2014 and is on track to exceed 300,000 vehicles in 2015.