A fresh report suggests Mercedes-Benz is considering scrapping production of its C-Class in the United States, leading to speculation the German firm’s plant in South Africa could pick up the slack.
According to Automotive News, the Stuttgart-based firm is mulling the end of C-Class sedan production in the US (despite having produced the model there for only the past five years), with a plan to build more SUVs instead.
It quotes industry forecaster LMC Automotive as saying production of the C-Class sedan in Alabama will cease in the final quarter of 2020.
"The SUV has really expanded from a consumer standpoint," said Jeff Schuster, president of global forecasting at LMC. "That's where the volume is; that's where the future is."
The report adds this could leave the door open for the automaker’s East London plant to increase its output (it apparently has 25 percent production capacity available), since the South African operation already produces the vehicle in right- and left-hand-drive form.
In addition to Alabama and East London, the C-Class is built in Bremen (Germany) and Beijing (China).
In June 2018, Mercedes-Benz announced the investment of an additional €600-million in the brand’s facilities in East London, effectively confirming the next generation of the C-Class would be built in SA. And in March 2019, the 500 000th W205-generation C-Class rolled off the assembly line at its East London plant.