2007 Mercedes-Benz GL450Enlarge Photo
Inexplicably, Mercedes-Benz looks to be preparing an expansion of its Vance, Ala. factory that currently produces its M-, GL-, and R-Class vehicles. Mercedes posted a steep 20 percent decline in auto sales in February compared with its performance that month one year ago; the market as a whole has fallen some 41 percent.
While an official announcement has not come from Mercedes-Benz, the company's request for - and receipt of - property tax, sales tax, and use-tax abatements from the Tuscaloosa County Industrial Development Authority signals their intent to expand. Figures include a $290 million investment in the Alabama factory. The expansion is expected to conclude sometime in 2011.
Sales of SUVs have fallen sharply in the U.S. recently, a reality that's no different for Mercedes; the company last year had to reduce the number of employees at the Alabama plant due to slackening vehicle demand. Said Mercedes spokeswoman Felyicia Jerald cryptically, "we are positioning ourselves for future products." She declined to say what those products would be. Surely they're making room for something other than SUV production given the changing demands of the U.S. market.
[source: Automotive News]