Mercedes in Hungary

Gary S. Vasilash

When you think “Mercedes” and “Manufacturing,” something like the 1.3-million square-meter Sindelfingen assembly complex, which produced 484,014 vehicles in 2011, probably comes to mind. Or something in Bremen. Hamburg. Berlin.

Since the mid-90s, there was another site of Mercedes manufacturing that probably caused some head scratching on both sides of the Atlantic: Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where the M-Class, GL, R, and soon C are produced.

2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA250

A little more than a week after Mercedes-Benz revealed the production version of the 2014 CLA-Class, a four-door coupe, at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit (which sounds like a place where cars would be built, although there are far fewer actually produced there than one might think), the car for which they produced a Hollywood-like Super Bowl ad with a soundtrack by the Rolling Stones, Willem Dafoe as the Devil, and Kate Upton as, well, Kate Upton, production of the car was launched at a 10-month-old Mercedes plant. . .in Kecskemét, Hungary.

At the official opening, Dr. Dieter Zetsche, chairman of the Daimler Board of Management and head of Mercedes-Benz Cars, said to the workers in the plant—which number approximately 3,000—“More than 40,000 B-Class vehicles built here prove that you know how to build great cars. You are doing a first-class job here at the plant.”

Merc Hungary

The CLA will become available in Europe in the spring, then in the U.S. in the fall.

Speaking of the CLA, Zetsche said, “The CLA is a car that does not confuse ‘mid-size’ with ‘mid-quality.’ Its sporty design underscores the sporty side of the Mercedes-Benz brand.”

And the Kecskemét plant (as well as Tuscaloosa and elsewhere) underscores the global side of the auto business.