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Daimler considers building Mercedes C-class in U.S.

Wed, 23 Sep 2009

Daimler AG could move some production of the Mercedes-Benz C-class to the United States from Germany, a German newspaper reported Wednesday.

The Stuttgarter Zeitung said some C-class production could be transferred to the carmaker's plant in Vance, Ala., from Sindelfingen, near Stuttgart, as part of a wider production shakeup planned by Daimler to reduce costs.

In the future, the C-class sedan could be built in three locations: Bremen, Germany; Vance, Ala., and in China, the newspaper said.

Building about 80,000 C-class cars a year in Vance would save the automaker about $95 million (64 million euros) because the average hourly wage at the U.S. factory is about $44 (30 euros) compared with $74 (50 euros) in Germany, the newspaper said.

Moving some C-class production to the United States would allow Daimler to avoid swings in the value of the U.S. dollar against the euro, and save import duties and freight costs.

The Vance plant, which builds the M-, GL- and R-class models, has spare capacity. The plant built 66,710 units in the first eight months of this year, down from 136,138 the year before, according to the Automotive News Data Center.

The C-class is Mercedes' top-selling car in the United States with 34,432 units sold in the first eight months, down from 50,593 the year before, according to the data center.

Daimler told news wires that it had not made any decision on future C-class production.

By Paul McVeigh- Automotive News Europe