Mercedes-Benz is continuing to see heavy demand for its compact models, like the CLA-Class, around the world, and Daimler has responded by adding a third shift at its Kecskemét, Hungary, factory starting in May. The plant, which builds the B-Class and CLA-Class, was already running two shifts and some Saturdays to keep up with their popularity, according to Bloomberg.

Early signs showed that the CLA-Class was doing well in the US, but limited supplies plagued dealers. The added Hungarian production should offset this, once they begin to arrive on these shores. Through the first two months of 2014, Mercedes has sold 4,404 of them in the US. The compact has also been bringing younger customers into Mercedes dealers. It buyers' median age is 46 years old, compared to 54 for the C-Class and 57 for the brand.

The new models' appeal has been helping Mercedes to stave off the growth of competitors Audi and BMW. Through the first two months of the year, the Four Rings has the lead by a few hundred units worldwide. The compacts have been Merc's main weapon in expansion with their sales up 29.7 percent through February.

In addition to Kecskemét, Daimler's Rastatt, Germany, factory has operating three shifts since October 2012. The automaker even has a contract with Valmet in Finland to build the A-Class to keep up with buyers desire for Mercedes' compacts. Scroll down to read Mercedes' full press release about the third shift. We've contacted Mercedes USA to get a better picture of how the CLA is performing in the US, and we'll update this story when we hear from them.
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Mercedes-Benz Kecskemét Plant to Produce with Additional Third Shift Beginning in May
Stuttgart / Kecskemét, Mar 18, 2014

New Mercedes-Benz compacts with continuous high demand

Compact car plants operate at full steam

Dr. Dieter Zetsche: "Most recently, our production has hardly kept up with the dynamic sales development of our compacts. That's why we are now switching our second compact car plant to three-shift operations as well - this allows us to serve the wishes of our customers around the world even better and timelier."

The Mercedes-Benz Kecskemét plant will introduce a third, additional shift in May. With this, further production capacities for the new generation of Mercedes-Benz compact cars will be available. The Mercedes-Benz plant in Rastatt, Germany has been operating in three-shift mode since October 2012 already.

Dr. Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars: "Most recently, our production has hardly kept up with the dynamic sales development of our compacts. That's why we are now switching our second compact car plant to three-shift operations as well - this allows us to serve the wishes of our customers around the world even better and timelier."

With regard to the contributions of the staff both at Rastatt and Kecskemét, Zetsche added: "We have the right products at the right time, and we also have an excellent production team. With its great dedication and the top-notch quality delivered on a daily basis, this team is one of the key reasons we're able to convince more and more customers with our A- and B-Class, the CLA and the new GLA."

Production in Rastatt and Kecskemét continues to run at full steam. Due to high customer demand, both plants had already worked numerous extra Saturday shifts last year. This flexible operating mode, which is closely aligned to the sales organization's planning, will be continued in the current year independently of the introduction of three-shift operations at Kecskemét.

About the new generation of Mercedes-Benz compact cars

The new generation of Mercedes-Benz compact cars continues to be in great demand: In February, Mercedes-Benz sold 28,211 vehicles of the A-Class, B-Class and CLA-Class, more than a quarter more than in the same month of the previous year (+27.4). Further growth is expected through the launch of the fourth compact model: The GLA came to the European market on March 15th. In the last year already, Mercedes-Benz sold more compact cars than ever before: All in all 371,399 customers opted for a compact car bearing the three-pointed star, 64.0% more than in the previous year 2012. In addition to the A- and B-Class, the compact four-door CLA coupe met with an excellent response. Especially with the A-Class and the CLA-Class the brand specifically opens itself up to new customer groups: One out of every two Mercedes customers of these model series previously owned a vehicle from another manufacturer.

About the production network of the new generation of Mercedes-Benz compact cars

The new Mercedes-Benz compacts are produced in the flexible production network of the plants in Rastatt, Germany, and Kecskemét, Hungary. The high degree of flexibility is on the one hand due to the joint architecture of the new compacts, thanks to which all models at each location can be built in any order and volume. On the other hand, models produced at several locations serve as levers allowing the plants to breathe and to allocate units optimally in the production network, always according to market demand for individual models.

Production of the B-Class started in both plants as the first product of the new generation (Rastatt: September 2011, Kecskemét: March 2012). The new A-Class has been built in Rastatt since July 2012. As the second product from Kecskemét, production of the CLA started in January 2013. Production of the compact SUV GLA began in Rastatt in December 2013. In total, Daimler has invested about 2 billion euros over several years, of which (including 2013) 1.2 billion at the Rastatt core plant and 800 million euros to build the new plant in Kecskemét. At the end of 2013, the number of staff in Rastatt was at about 6.600, in Kecskemét at about 3,400. Additional production capacities for the A-Class have been available to Daimler since August 2013 with the contract manufacturing at the Finnish production specialist Valmet Automotive, where more than 100,000 vehicles of the model series are planned to roll off the line until 2016. Furthermore, local production of the GLA for the Chinese market will begin in 2015 at BBAC's (Beijing Benz Automotive Corporation, joint venture of Daimler and its Chinese partner BAIC) production location in Beijing.

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