Mercedes-Benz gearing up for new model in Tuscaloosa, X6 fighter on the way?

Since settling on Alabama as its North American manufacturing base, Mercedes-Benz has produced an endless stream of SUVs at its Tuscaloosa plant. Over the years, the facility has expanded to accommodate the M-Class, GL-Class and R-Class models. And in 2014 it will start producing the C-Class for the local market as well. Now the German automaker is planning on adding yet another line.

The expansion will encompass an investment of $350 million and the creation of 400 new jobs by the time production of the new model comes online in 2015. The question is, what will that new model be?

All Daimler is telling us is that it will be a new model, not the porting over of an existing one (as with the C-Class). Sources expect, however, that it will be a new crossover in the style of the BMW X6 – that is, four doors with a sloping roofline.

The photo above snapped at the site of the announcement certainly seems to corroborate the notion, as does earlier speculation. What the new model will be called remains to be seen, but one thing's for sure: it won't have much headroom in the back. Follow the jump for the press release.
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Daimler to Produce Additional Model at the Mercedes-Benz Tuscaloosa Plant (USA)
Stuttgart, Germany / Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA
Oct 21, 2011

- Expansion of production portfolio as of 2015
- US$350 million investment, 400 new jobs
- Dr. Dieter Zetsche: "This new model is an important element of our growth strategy."

Stuttgart, Germany / Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA – Daimler will further expand its U.S. plant in Tuscaloosa, Alabama: as of 2015, an entirely new Mercedes-Benz model will roll off the production line as its fifth product. The plant has been the traditional production site of the brand's M-, GL-, and R-Class SUVs and will also build the C-Class for the North American market beginning 2014. For the production of the new model, Daimler will additionally invest US$ 350 million, and will create some 400 further jobs at the plant.

Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Daimler Board of Management and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars: "This new model from the Tuscaloosa plant is an important element of our growth strategy. It is one of the ten additional models which we will introduce within the next four years alone across all segments." Referring to the Tuscaloosa plant's role within the global production network of Mercedes-Benz Cars, Zetsche added: "At the same time, we are systematically broadening our manufacturing footprint in the NAFTA region."

Robert Bentley, Governor of the State of Alabama: "Since the time Mercedes-Benz chose Tuscaloosa County for its first US assembly plant 18 years ago, the company has proven to be an outstanding partner for the state. We join MBUSI in celebrating this milestone, and welcome the hundreds of jobs this announcement brings to Alabama."

Just earlier this year, on the occasion of the Job #1 ceremony of the new Mercedes-Benz M-Class in July, Daimler had announced the decision to invest more than US$2 billion in the Tuscaloosa plant (Mercedes-Benz U.S. International – MBUSI). In total, investment in the plant between 2010 and 2014 will thus amount to US$2.4 billion, while the number of newly created jobs will add up to 1,400.

Markus Schaefer, President and CEO of MBUSI, commented on these decisions: "The entire MBUSI team is proud of its role in the success of the models made in Tuscaloosa. We are looking forward to making further important contributions to the product offensive of Mercedes-Benz."

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