The American South has become synonymous with foreign auto brand manufacturing for the better part of two decades. Everything from humble Toyota Corollas and Sentras all the way up to Mercedes-Benz and BMW models are rolling out of Dixie, not only to North American markets, but around the world.

Mercedes-Benz showed its commitment to its U.S. manufacturing presence by announcing a fifth model to be produced at Mercedes' plant in Vance, Alabama, outside Tuscaloosa. The plant currently builds the ML and GL SUVs, the R-Class crossover, and will begin production on the C-Class sedan in 2014. The fifth model is scheduled to go online in 2015.

The future model was revealed to Alabama governor Robert Bentley on a recent trip to Stuttgart as part of an industrial recruiting trip. Bentley described the vehicle as "sleek" and "eye-catching." Based on this description, it's believed the new model will be an ML-based model with more aggressive, carlike bodywork, along the lines of BMW's X6 crossover.

The X6 has not been a large-volume seller for BMW. But the ML has been a runaway hit for Mercedes-Benz, as one of the best-selling models in the luxury SUV class in the U.S. and around the world. The majority of ML production globally is sourced from the Vance factory.

Source: Tuscaloosa News