As further evidence that the sky isn't on as fierce a downward trajectory as some would have you believe, Mercedes-Benz is working on a planned $290 million Tuscaloosa, Alabama plant expansion. The new 200,000 sq ft addition will produce SUVs and other new models for American tastes.

Mercedes hasn't been immune from the global economic downturn in its sales or profit figures, but it continues to plan for the future. And that future includes more M-Class and GL-Class vehicles, and their successors, the company told the Tuscaloosa News.

“There is no doubt that we are going through the most historic times in our work lives," said Matt Kendrick, Mercedes-Benz U.S. International's (MBUSI) general counsel. "So what is this company doing? We are not asking for a bailout."

A bit over half the money - around $150 million - will go into a new body shop, with the rest spread around the facility's paint shop and assembly line.

"We are investing with confidence in the products that we make," Kendrick continued. "We are confident the economy will come back, so we took this effort to put almost $300 million into the facility so we will be competitive with the Big Three, the other [foreign] transplants and even our sister manufacturing plants,”

Even in the struggling economy, the U.S. continues to be one of the most important markets for luxury carmakers everywhere. So continuing to prepare for the future - even one that might not see a quick return to volume of 17 million vehicles per year - makes good business sense.