Earlier today reports emerged of Daimler officials speaking with a German newspaper about Mercedes-Benz considering production of the C-Class sedan in the U.S., confirming a similar report from July of last year at the launch of the GLK crossover. But further digging by the High Gear Media team has uncovered a source from within Mercedes that says the Vance, Alabama plant up for C-Class production didn't get the bid.
No explanation was given for the decision, and it's still not yet official, but don't expect to see GLKs or C-Class sedans rolling out of the Vance production line any time soon.
Both the GLK and C-Class are built on the same platform, so building one would have opened the door to building the other. Mercedes' SUV production and sales have historically been huge in the U.S., with the M-Class and GL-Class (as well as the slow-selling R-Class) being built here, so it would have made good logistical sense as well.
2010 Mercedes-Benz GLK
And that's exactly why it was being considered. According to the German paper Stuttgarter Zeitung, the savings in moving some C-Class production Stateside would total about $95 million at 80,000 cars per year thanks to the 20 euros per hour savings in labor costs over European workers.
Further, if the factory at Vance were tasked with building 80,000 cars, at least some of them would be due for export, as even before this year's nosedive, Mercedes sold only 50,593 C-Class sedans in the U.S., according to Automotive News' Data Center.
Regardless of where the cars are built, the U.S.-market C-Class and GLK could both get a four-cylinder turbodiesel in the near future. In July of last year, Mercedes confirmed that both would be arriving by sometime in 2010, though the economic downturn has likely delayed that even further.
The engine could be a 2.2-liter turbodiesel rated at 170 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque, or one of two new variants found in the 250 CDI and 250 CGI, both rated at 204 horsepower but with the 2.2-liter 250 CDI scoring 369 pound-feet of torque and the 1.8-liter 250 CGI version making a somewhat more tame 229 pound-feet. Fuel efficiency of the three engines ranges from 33 to 49 mpg.
A supercharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine is also rumored to be on the table for U.S. sale.
We'll keep you abreast of the latest as it breaks.