North Charleston, South Carolina – Mercedes-Benz Vans broke ground on its Sprinter plant for the North American market. With the new full-scale plant, Mercedes-Benz Vans will offer faster and more individualized supply to its customers.
The new plant is an expansion of the existing van assembly site. It represents an investment of around $500 million. Mercedes-Benz Vans will create up to 1,300 jobs. It is estimated that suppliers will create approximately 400 new jobs in and around North Charleston. First the body shop of the new plant will be constructed, followed by the paint shop and the assembly lines later this year. Production of the next-generation Sprinter is planned to begin before the end of the decade.
Volker Mornhinweg, head of Mercedes-Benz Vans, says, "We are writing automotive history in South Carolina! The groundbreaking also marks an important milestone for our growth strategy 'Mercedes-Benz Vans goes global': With our new plant we will continue with our success story in North America even more dynamically."
Mercedes-Benz Vans will implement its most innovative production technologies and concepts in the new plant. Focusing on connectivity like digital communications on the shop floor, it will be most agile and adaptive to respond fast to market changes and customer needs. The workforce will undergo comprehensive technical trainings to ensure a smooth and successful production ramp-up.
The United States is one of the fastest growing van markets in the world. It has become the second-largest single market for the Sprinter in terms of unit sales, after Germany. In 2015, Mercedes-Benz Vans delivered about 28,600 units to customers in the U.S.
The Sprinter vans for the U.S. market have so far been produced at German plants. However, because of high import tariffs, they have been partially dismantled in a time-consuming process, and reassembled at the North Charleston plant. Since 2006, Mercedes-Benz Vans has performed this so-called semi-knocked-down (SKD) assembly in North Charleston for imported Sprinter large-size vans and since 2015 also for imported Metris mid-size vans ("Vito" in other markets). This process results in a significant competitive disadvantage on the U.S. market for Mercedes-Benz Vans.
Source: Daimler North America