First China-Bound Mercedes-Benz R-Class Built By AM General
Plant Daimler’s First Contract Manufacturing Venture in U.S.
Earlier this year, Mercedes-Benz announced it would transition production of its R-Class crossover from its assembly plant in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, to contract manufacturer AM General in Mishawaka, Indiana. Although the R-Class was discontinued in the U.S. market for after the 2013 model year, it remains very popular in China. R-Class production was moved to Indiana to free up more production capacity in Tuscaloosa for the C-Class sedan and GL, ML, and GLE sport-utility vehicles. Today, AM General commemorated the beginning of R-Class export production in a ceremony at its Indiana plant. The addition of the R-Class to the plant’s lineup is expected to add approximately 200 jobs to the plant’s workforce. No unit production forecasts for the export model were announced at the ceremony.
Unlike Daimler’s Tuscaloosa plant, the AM General plant is represented by the United Auto Workers, making the R-Class Mercedes’ first model built in the U.S. with union labor. Indiana Governor Mike Pence, who has been an outspoken advocate of right-to-work laws in the traditionally pro-labor state, was present at the ceremony, as well as democratic Senator Joe Donnelly, a supporter of labor rights and collective bargaining. Although AM General no longer produces the Hummer H1 and H2, the plant also builds the Mobility Ventures MV-1, the first purpose-built disabled access vehicle. The MV-1 received an update for the 2016 model year that includes a powertrain update to the Ford 3.7L Duratec V-6 and six-speed automatic transmission.
Source: AM General