Last week, we told you how despite the downturn, Daimler is upping its investment in the state of Michigan, coming to terms with the city of Ann Arbor to build a new hybrid and electric R&D facility. Now, Automotive News is reporting that the automaker is expected to actually expand its Vance, Alabama production plant.

If the rumors are true, the Mercedes-Benz plant (which currently builds GL, M, and R class vehicles) will benefit from a $290 million investment that is to begin within 60 days. The news evidently leaked out after company officials contacted the Tuscaloosa County Industrial Development Authority about property and sales tax breaks (which it apparently received).

The expansion news comes at an odd time, as not only has the automaker's sales been flagging in the U.S. (down 20 percent in February year-over-year, admittedly much better than the market plunge of 41.4 percent), but sales of Vance-built SUVs in particular have fallen off, with Benz responding by reducing the plant's workforce.

Automotive News says the expansion effort won't be completed until 2011, but word yet on how much capacity this will give the plant (and what it will be used for) is not yet known.

[Source: Automotive News - subs. req'd]

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