Mercedes to build new SUV at Alabama plant in 2015; CEO calls for harmonizing safety standards

Markets Associated Press

Mercedes has announced plans to start building a fifth model, the ML Coupe, at its Alabama plant next year.

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Dieter Zetsche, the chairman of Mercedes parent Daimler AG, said in a visit to the Tuscaloosa plant on Friday that the company's five-year expansion plan for the facility will total $2.4 billion by 2015.

The plant produced its first of Mercedes' bestselling C-Class sedans in July and plans updates to ML and GL SUVs next year alongside the new model, which was introduced at auto shows earlier this year as the Concept Coupe SUV.

Zetsche also called for harmonizing safety and emissions standards between Europe and the United States to cut down on design and development costs.

Mercedes' Tuscaloosa plant, which opened in 1997, employs about 3,400 people.