German carmaker Daimler AG said Wednesday it will move some of its Mercedes Benz C-Class car production to its Tuscaloosa, Alabama, plant to take advantage of lower production costs and to avoid currency fluctuations.
Merc shifts C-Class production
Daimler said production of the new generation of the C-Class should start there in 2014.
The company also said that employment levels at its Sindelfingen plant in southern Germany would be maintained. Workers had protested the plans over the last several days, fearing about 3 000 jobs could be lost there.
Daimler said as a result some German production of the C-Class would be moved to the Bremen plant in northern Germany. In return Sindelfingen would get production of the SL, a sports coupe.
South African production
The C-Class line, which includes a sedan, coupe and wagon, is built in Sindelfingen and Bremen, as well as in South Africa and China.
The company said the move will be made so that Daimler maintains its competitiveness, utilizes the growth opportunities around the world and is able to protect jobs in Germany over the long term.
Production costs are cheaper in the U.S. and the company can avoid currency fluctuations by the move. The company also said the move closer to markets would also allow it to fulfill regional customer requirements faster and with more flexibly.
"We are aware of our Sindelfingen employees' great emotional attachment to the C-Class and we recognize the outstanding work that they perform every day. So this decision was not made easily," Dieter Zetsche, the company's chief executive said in a statement.
"But this step is essential for strategic and operational reasons, so that Mercedes-Benz remains competitive and can fully utilise future growth opportunities," he said. "This decision will also help to protect employment at our sites in Germany over the long term. Germany is and will remain at the heart of our production network."
Mercedes-Benz SA told Wheels24 that the exports of locally-built C-Class models to the US remain unaffected for now.
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