What do a Mercedes-Benz R-Class and a Humvee have in common? Soon, a manufacturer.
Mercedes says it will outsource production of the R-Class to Humvee producer AM General, which will build the luxury crossover-minivan chimera at its plant in Mishawaka, Indiana.
The R-Class was pulled from the U.S. market in 2012, and virtually every other global market shortly after that. However, it's still sold in some markets, the main one being China, and that's where the majority of R-Classes produced by AM General in Indiana will go.
A German automaker contracting assembly of a vehicle to a U.S. company so it can be sold in China? Now that's globalization.
Mercedes currently builds the R-Class at its plant in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, but wants to free up capacity there for other utility vehicles, such as the GL-Class (soon to be renamed GLS), M-Class (soon to be renamed GLE), and the upcoming GLE Coupe.
The agreement will make AM General Mercedes' first contract manufacturer in the U.S. The company plans to hire more workers ahead of the start of R-Class production, which is expected to begin this summer.
While the R-Class will still be built in the U.S., don't expect it to make a comeback in showrooms here anytime soon. Mercedes sold just 2,385 of them in the U.S. in 2011, a fraction of the sales racked up by each of the automaker's more conventional SUV models.