Mercedes-Benz recently announced that it is getting ready to make more SUVs in the United States. Oddly enough, the German automaker is tapping AM General for help with the endeavor. Yes, that’s the same AM General that’s famous for creating the Hummer H1, but also makes numerous commercial vehicles today. The company’s factory in South Bend, Indiana will be used to kick out the R-Class, which is actually not dead despite no longer being available for purchase in the U.S. AM General is supposed to start production of the R-Class this summer.
Another component of the plan involves Mercedes using its Tuscaloosa, Alabama plant to pump out a bunch of M-Class, GL-Class, and GLE Coupe SUVs. With the shift of the R-Class production to Indiana, Mercedes says it is planning for over 300,000 units to be produced at the Tuscaloosa plant each year. The C-Class is also made in Tuscaloosa.
The company is focusing so much on its SUV lineup that is has dubbed 2015 as “the year of the SUV.” That might sound cheesy, but it’s important to note that almost every sport utility model that Mercedes offers will be revised this year. The M-Class and GL-Class are both getting mid-cycle refreshes, just in time for the company’s nomenclature shift (when it will be renaming pretty much all of its models). That’s when the M-Class will become the GLE-Class and the GL-Class will become the GLS-Class. Confused yet?
Another big event is the upcoming release of the GLE Coupe, which adds a sportier element to Mercedes’ SUV lineup. It will go up against the likes of the BMW X6. Of course there will be an AMG version, called the GLE450 AMG, which will pack an extreme punch at 362 horsepower and 384 lb.-ft. of torque, thanks to a twin-turbo 3.0-liter V-6 engine. Later, a GLE63 AMG with a twin-turbo 4.0-liter V-8 engine will deliver even more performance, like northward of 500 horsepower.