Mercedes-Benz has announced the investment of an additional €600-million (that’s about R9,5-billion at the current exchange rate) in the brand’s facilities in East London, confirming that the next generation of the C-Class will be built here in South Africa.

The expansion of the plant – which earlier in 2018 began building the C43, C63 and C63 S alongside the standard C-Class – will include the construction of a new paint shop and a new body shop, an upgrade of the assembly shop as well as new logistic warehouses. Overall, Mercedes-Benz says the new buildings comprise an area of approximately 100 000 m², which translates to an increase of two-thirds to the existing production space.

“With the investment of €600-million, we are significantly expanding our plant in East London and equipping it for the future,” said Markus Schäfer, member of the divisional board of Mercedes-Benz Cars, production and supply chain.

“The decision to have the new generation of the C-Class built in East London re-affirms the plant and Mercedes-Benz South Africa. The investment is also a sign of our commitment to South Africa and efforts to revive economic growth as well as the socio-economic development of the East London region,” Schäfer added.

The Stuttgart-based brand says the investment will be used for a “wide expansion” of the factory, covering “many different parts” of the plant. Three new lines will be added in the assembly shop, while the automaker says the new paint shop will be “more energy efficient and more environmentally friendly”.

South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa attended the announcement and welcomed the news.

“A central priority for government this year has been to encourage significant new investment in our economy, necessary to realise economic growth, employment and reduce inequality,” said President Ramaphosa.

“The announcement by Mercedes-Benz Cars to inject R10-billion in the South African economy signals to the positive momentum we are making to realise the ambitious target of raising R1,2-trillion in new investment.

“This investment by Mercedes-Benz Cars endorses South Africa as a favourable destination for investment; and correspondingly, demonstrates our determination to work with all social partners to seize the opportunities that are opening up for greater investment and faster growth,” he added.