The automaker is relying on a ?three-pillar system? of its own factories, joint ventures and contract manufacturers, Mercedes-Benz production chief Markus Schaefer said. He left open the option of building new plants.
?We?ll expand our global production capacity when we need it, as part of our strategy to become the No. 1 luxury carmaker,? he said.
Mercedes-Benz is making room for more production of its new GLC-Class as SUVs continue to surge in popularity, Schaefer said in an interview this week at Mercedes? biggest factory in Sindelfingen, Germany, the facility where the company makes its flagship S-Class, among other models. Mercedes this year also contracted out production of the R-Class wagon to focus its U.S. factory on SUVs.
The expansion is part of Mercedes? plan to surpass BMW and become the world?s top luxury automaker. Its sales have grown nearly three times as quickly as BMW?s this year. Its C-Class lineup and strong demand in China for the GLK-Class model, the GLC?s predecessor, have put it in position to overtake Audi for the No. 2 spot.
To free up capacity for the GLC at Valmet?s factory, Schaefer said production of the compact A-Class will be shifted to the Mercedes? plant in Rastatt. Valmet, based in Uusikaupunki, Finland, will produce about 100,000 A-Class hatchbacks for Mercedes from 2013 to 2016 under its contract.
Mercedes-Benz parent company Daimler remains in talks for a manufacturing plant in Russia and a final decision will depend on a market recovery, Schaefer said. The German carmaker already holds a stake in Russian truckmaker KamAZ and produces the Sprinter van in a joint venture with GAZ Group.
In the first 10 months of the year, sales at BMW?s namesake marque rose 5.8 per cent to 1.56 million cars. Audi?s deliveries were up 3.6 per cent to 1.49 million vehicles. Mercedes outpaced them both with a 15 per cent jump to 1.53 million cars.
In China, the Daimler unit surpassed its full-year sales volume from 2014 after only ten months, defying a slowdown in the market as a whole.