DaimlerChrysler South Africa has been awarded the contract to build its next-generation Mercedes-Benz C-Class in East London and will probably start producing left-hand drive models for the export market too.

DaimlerChrysler South Africa has been awarded the contract to build its next-generation Mercedes-Benz C-Class in East London and will probably start producing left-hand drive models for the export market too.

DCSA received notification on Tuesday about the contract, but could not supply any further details on the agreement, the expected new investments or the new job opportunities that may arise out of it.

Other than the Sindelfingen and Bremen plants in Germany, the company’s East London plant will be the only factory producing the new C-Class outside of Europe.

Sam Steinmetz, production manager at the East London plant, said the manufacture of left-hand drive Mercedes C-Class models could start “very soon”. Production of the C-Class is likely to increase from the current 42 000 to 80 000 units, and Steinmetz said he hoped the additions would be left-hand drive models.

If this were to happen, DCSA, like BMW SA, would benefit from the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa), which guarantees duty- and import-free access to goods from South Africa to the United States. Under the scheme, companies involved in export programmes can import vehicles and components into the US at lower tariffs, translating into a lower cost for US customers.