Tuesday 24 November 2009

Next generation Mercedes C-Class to be built Stateside, CLC will be axed

Updated: 16/12/09

Mercedes will move U.S production to Vance, Alabama in 2014. World-wide production will commence at the Bremen plant in Germany.

Mercedes is set to add the fourth generation C-Class saloon to the list of cars already produced at its Tuscaloosa plant in Alabama as part of a program aimed at fighting slumped profitability in its second biggest market.

With the continued strength of the Euro against the U.S dollar eating into margins on models produced in Germany and sold in the U.S, Mercedes insiders say efforts are underway to provide protection from unfavourable currency exchange rates in the form of increased North American production.

“We’ve reached a window of opportunity where we can now consider producing the next C-Class in the U.S,” a source revealed. “We’re mid-cycle on the W204 (the current C-Class) and need to decide if we want to push ahead with its successor at Tuscaloosa.”

Mercedes already produces the M-, R- and GL-Class at Tuscaloosa – a plant that opened in 1997 and expanded in 2005 to meet growing demand. While nothing is official, annual U.S production of the C-Class would likely reach 80,000 units.

During a press conference, Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche said "It's no secret that a decision for the new C-Class has to be made in the near future".

But with sales of large SUVs down in most markets owing to the miserable state of the economy, the currency balancing effects of U.S production are not as significant as they have been in recent years, leading the German car maker to consider the addition of other models.

The earmarking of the next C-Class saloon, due in 2014, for North American production is significant as it could ultimately pave the way for other mechanical similar models, including the GLK to be built there. However, it would come as major blow to Mercedes-Benz’s worker union which fought hard to ensure production of left-hand drive versions of the current C-Class saloon remained in Germany despite high labour costs.

Additional North American production would unlikely affect the UK as right-hand drive versions of the C-Class saloon are supplied from Mercedes-Benz’s East London plant in South Africa, while the GLK is only available in left-hand drive form owing to difficulties in re-engineering its four-wheel drive system for right-hand drive markets, although Mercedes is still trying to find a way.

An official decision is set to be made in January 2010.

Meanwhile, in related news, Mercedes is preparing to axe the CLC to make way for a new C-Class coupe in 2011. The C-Class coupe will be the second two-door car based upon the existing C-Class but the first to take its name into production.

Set to go on sale in the UK at the same time as facelifted versions of the existing saloon and estate reach showrooms in early 2011, the new C-Class coupe has been conceived to replace the CLK, discontinued earlier this year after 12 years and two model generations.

The introduction of the C-Class coupe spells the end for the CLC, a small sports hatch that was only recently updated. Sources indicated the model will be phased out and will be replaced by the new coupe.

The forthcoming two-door will avoid having a unique bodyshell and individual styling that made the CLK such a success for a comparatively upright look that draws heavily on the silhouette and detailing of its four door siblings.

“We went back and studied what made our coupes so popular in the past. If you look at some of the more successful two door models Mercedes-Benz has produced you can see a direct relationship between them and their four door stable mates,” said an insider describing the new coupe’s appearance. Don’t expect the new Mercedes-Benz to have a very long life, though. With engineering of the fourth-generation C-Class already underway at the German car maker’s R&D centre near Stuttgart, the new two door is planned to be sold for a maximum of four years before it is replaced by a much more curvaceous model that’s likely to follow the example of the CLS in boasting a more practical four door layout.

The upcoming C-Class coupe will be the second two-door model to be based on today’s C-Class. Unlike the E-Class coupe, however, the C-Class version will not be modified and offered in cabriolet guise.

“We did look at an open top version but in the end the costs were too high given the short model life,”

1 comment:

Jerry Clark said...

Thanks dear,
it was really nice of you to show the glims of the all new Mercedes C-Class
Mercedes has always been a car of my dreams
as i cant afford one of these, at least felt somebody could provide me with a contract hire Mercedes of the kind & i would fly the machine like m riding a plan even for a day..
again thanks a lot…:)

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