With the SUV market booming, Mercedes-Benz may make a tough decision in the near future. The automaker is rumored to be considering ending C-Class production at its plant in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
Automotive News (subscription required) reported on the possible decision on Monday. The C-Class sedan's production exit from the U.S. would leave more room for SUV production. The Alabama plant also builds the GLE and GLS. In the future, the plant will also build members of Mercedes-Benz's EQ electric-car family.
But with C-Class sales slowing, it's simply a matter of removing what isn't selling for a vehicle that sells better domestically. While the C-Class remains the second-best selling line in the U.S. for Mercedes, SUVs like the GLE and GLS have begun to eat away at its popularity. Current estimates for 2019 sales sees C-Class numbers falling while GLE and GLS numbers are expected to grow. This makes sense as the GLE and GLS were both redesigned for 2020.
Mercedes-Benz made the decision to move some C-Class production from the nameplate's traditional home of Germany to the U.S. in 2009 and began production of the car locally in 2014. Five years later, it shows how quickly trends have shifted in the country. SUVs and crossovers made up about 53 percent of the market in 2014, but today it's more like 70 percent of the total.
2020 Mercedes-Benz GLS-Class
Neither Mercedes-Benz or parent automaker Daimler commented on the rumored end of C-Class production in the U.S. It if it occurs, it will likely happen prior to the arrival of a redesigned C-Class in the next year or two.
To be clear, the C-Class won't exit the market in the U.S., but it won't be built locally. Instead, it's likely the car in the future will be sourced from South Africa, where Mercedes already builds the car for left- and right-hand-drive markets. The C-Class is also made at plants in Germany, China and Brazil.