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Mercedes-Benz moves C-Class production to Alabama

The Local · 2 Dec 2009, 10:30

Published: 02 Dec 2009 10:30 GMT+01:00

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The announcement came after thousands of workers from Germany’s largest automobile factory in Sindelfingen, Baden-Württemberg where the C-Class series is currently produced, protested the rumoured move on Tuesday.

"This decision will also help to protect employment at our sites in Germany over the long term. Germany is and will remain at the heart of our production network," Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars, Dieter Zetsche said in a statement.

The company said that the decision would put the C-Class closer to its target market and improve profitability by removing exchange rate constraints.

In the future C-Class production within Germany will take place at the company’s Bremen plant, which will see its focus of the SL roadster be transferred south to Sindelfingen.

The company does not plan to lay off any workers during the plant shuffle, though some 1,800 will be offered alternative employment opportunities, the statement said.

The Sindelfingen plant currently employs more than 28,000 workers.

Story continues below…

The Alabama plant currently produces M-, R- and CL-Class sports utility vehicles, and rolled 152,561 vehicles off the assembly line in 2008.

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

12:11 December 2, 2009 by thomass66
Great, just what I wanted - I was planning on buying a C Class Mercedes in the near future but now I will reconsider it because since it is now going to be built by a bunch of rednecks and not the skilled craftsman that Mercedes has been able to develop since the turn of the last century. I don't understand the thinking (or lack there of in this case) process of the Germans to move the making of such a quality car from the land that created such a fine automobile to the deep South of the U.S. where all that is able to produce is Whiskey, Guns, Tobacco, Gumbo and illegitimate children - how stupid. No I don't work for Mercedes - I am an American living in Germany for the past 15 years and know what German auto building quality is all about - just makes me wonder how such businesses can continue to thrive by making such stupid decisions - just don't get it ­ just plain stupid. Good luck Mercedes with the driving down the value of such a quality product, guess I¦#39;ll just have to make sure I buy mine before they leave Stuttgart and trust me I will check to make sure it was built here before buying it.
15:13 December 2, 2009 by joesjungle
thomass66, I'm sorry you had to identify yourself as an Amercian.

Read the article, it won't happen until 2014. Second of all you're generalizing people far too much. I find it funny that the German auto worker pictured in this article sports a fabulous mullet. Something you would generalize with the southern "redneck" of the US.

You are so far off point I don't even know where to begin. First of all if you think it takes a skilled craftsman to construct a car you know nothing about engineering today. The Volvo I recently purchased only has about 29 welds done by an actual human. The rest was almost entirely stamped, bolted, welded, and assembled by robots.

Auto manufacturing is a global affair with parts being produced across the globe by Polish, Chinese, German, Swedish, Mexicans, and the list goes on.

The C class is really the lowest of low MB models anyay. Unless you count the A class but thats only in the european markets. They've already been making the R class in the US for several years. Even BMW makes one of its SUV's in the US.

I'm proud that MB and BMW are looking towards the US as a viable solution for building their fine cars. It also means that more jobs will come both in building hte factories and in re-employing laid off auto workers.

If you don't want to buy a Bremen built C class (not stuttgart like you think they are built now) then stay in Germany and buy a German Spec vehicle and pay inflated Euro prices for it.
18:02 December 2, 2009 by globaleng
People's perceptions are so interesting. I have had the good fortune of actually being in these Mercedes plants (along with dozens more) as an engineer in the automotive quality field - however not as a MB employee.

What is usually noticed is that - yes, I would have to agree that the average German MB line employee is more skilled than the average US MB employee. This is mostly due to the German apprentice system and trade-oriented public education programs used extensively by German automakers.

However, I would have to say that the quality systems pushed today by the US-transplants are much more rigid than their cousins across the pond. I write this off as the US plants' attempts to measure up to the reputation of the brand and not "embarrass" the company. There is much more "give and take" in the German assembly system when dealing with suppliers and bought-in items. The US quality systems are essentially Black-and-White, not very many gray areas.

Not to say that the EU produced car is of a low quality, but - as an example - you will have a much less chance of a paint defect on a body part assembled in Vance, Alabama than you will in Sindelfingen.

This seems to hold true for not only MB in Alabama, but also for the BMW transplant in Spartanburg. I can say that all of Alabama plants (Mercedes, Honda, Hyundai, and Toyota engines) have world-class assembly systems and quality systems in place to ensure top-notch vehicles that are every bit as good as the EU-produced cars.

Oh - and I must also agree that the mullet in the picture is very well done. In the past 5 years I've seen more in Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria than I've seen in Alabama and Georgia. Strange. Right now I've got to catch a flight down to Alabama - hope they still have some whiskey, tobacco, and gumbo.
19:59 December 2, 2009 by usasweetie

I was born and raised in Alabama. My grandfathers hold advanced degrees in engineering and have worked in some very prestigious positions. One grandmother earned two college degrees and another grandmother owned her own business. My parents are both engineers with advanced degrees - my mother has in fact been granted her Ph.D. I have both a bachelors and masters.

The city I live in is continuously ranked highly in many different areas. We have nationally ranked high schools and a very highly educated work force. Some of the many technological advances in the space and defense industry were due laregly to a workforce educated in various SEC schools.

Additionally, in terms of cultural contributions, the entertainment industry is almost inundated with southerners. If you like rock n roll, blues, or country you should be very thankful for southern artists. The larger cities in Alabama all have healthy arts scenes - my city has a strong contingent of people who support the local symphony, play houses, arts centers and museums.

Your generalization of the citizens of Alabama is not only highly offensive, it shows your ignorance of the area. I can only assume that because your knowledge is limited to "rednecks" you must be one yourself. Perhaps socializing with more educated and cultured people would widen your horizons and allow you to speak accurately when discussing a geographical area.
00:14 December 3, 2009 by kschwaeger
People in Alabama are not Rednecks. My questions is how many JD Power awards have been given to Germany. Wlak into the Plant in Alabama and you will be amazed at the Entrance where we hold the Awards for JD Power SUV of the year for one and I can't even begin to name the other numerous awards. Just because we are not born and raised in Germany does not mean that we cannot buid a World Class product. Further more the negative comments made by some should consider that the people at the Mercedes Plant here in Alabama were trained by Germans so basically when you put the people in Alabama down your put the people in Germany down to because they are the ones who spent numerous hours training here in Alabama. So therefore if you would like to see the results of the products built in Alabama maybe you should take a trip to Alabama and see that there are people here that can build a car just like the Germans. Sounds like some are a bit jealous that Americans are able to be just as successful in Alabama as the Germans are in Germany. If we didn't succeed with the R, M, and GL then I hardly think they would be bringing the car from Germany to here. Sounds to me also like someone needs a little more education in the Automotive Industry. Also, when the Germans comce to Alabama to work very few of them want to return to Germany if you know of any just ask them. I would probably say around 95% never want to go back to Germany bacause of the Southern Hospitality shown here in Alabama. Maybe you should broaden your horizons and get a real life and make a trip to Alabama so that before you leave you can open your mouth and insert your foot.
17:14 December 3, 2009 by thomass66
I apologize to all for striking out at Alabama, but I did forgot to mention football in my litany of things that come from that State as well, but riddle me this, don't you think the American economy would be in a little bit better state than it currently finds itself in if the U.S. had focused on producing a better (product) automobile itself, e.g., Chevrolet, Chrysler, GM, Ford, etc. and not simply take the jobs out from under a lot of folks that are going to be looking for employment in the Stuttgart area in the real near future? Does not matter to the guy or gal who builds a better product or where until it's their job that is taken away, enough said. Again, apologies to those offended by my stupid (offensive) comments about the state of Alabama and its citizenry, I¦#39;m sure it¦#39;s a wonderful place to visit and or live. I realize it had nothing to do with my argument and oh by the way I do drive a Ford that I ensured (researched) was assembled in Kentucky prior to making my purchase, I simply was upset that I have friends that work at the Sindelfingen plant that is currently get to protest for a second day regarding this decision and I will see the direct impact of this decision, as I feel was the wrong one to say the least, thanks for reading and I¦#39;ll be sure to think before posting my next entry because my foot does not taste that good.
19:43 December 3, 2009 by usasweetie
thomass66: We all put our foot in our mouth sometimes. I can understand being upset about friends potentially losing jobs. If the US auto companies earn the respect of auto purchasers around the world, the US ecomony will be in better shape. Ford has already made great advances in that area.

How did you end up in Germany?
22:15 December 3, 2009 by thomass66
usasweetie: Came to Germany to visit and work for a stint but ended up falling in love with "more" than just the country itself, now with a wife of over ten years and two children found it best to just stay put for awhile. I still love the country though, especially fond of it's Southern region as well as most are of the U.S., as I've seen in the responses to my initial tirade.

I tell folks that while traveling the countryside I managed to find myself a real souvenir, which is how I fondly refer to my wife...
14:23 December 4, 2009 by tim040269
As an employee of the Alabama plant, I must say that I feel for the German employees and understand their anger. I've been at the plant for almost 11 years and the person that stuck his foot in his mouth has no idea what we go through to build a quality product. Our standards are high no matter what you might think. Also, you might not know that at the end of 2008 over 300 employees and all of our temps lost their job. Now at the end of this year another 200 will lose theirs. I saw a women crying her eyes out while trying to put a air bag unit in after she found out she had to go. So the Germans aren't the only ones that has lost some jobs lately. I'm sure that most of you didn't know that.
17:02 December 4, 2009 by ensoll
It seems to me that the sentiment Thomas66 is colorfully intending to convey is with regard to the general work ethic of people in Germany vs the US. As an American, I am willing to admit, there is no comparison. American's care more about themselves than their employer whereas, in my personal experience in both countries, the German worker has much more interest and selfless awareness in the success of his company.

German's take pride in their work. Americans take pride in their Jet Skis, favorite sports team jerseys and ball caps, and iPods (none of which being made in the US, ironically).

With respect to the move of the MB plant, I suspect MB might recognize that it is more important right now to do what they can to get the US economy back in motion rather than keeping this work at home since the US economy has such an effect on the rest of the world.
17:25 December 4, 2009 by lordkorner
If the people in Alabama are not red necks,then where in the States do the Red necks live? just a question...
20:11 December 4, 2009 by tim040269
Probably next door to you lordkorner. Just gotta love ignorance and stupidity.
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