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Daimler to Produce Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Vans in South Carolina, Says Lawmaker

March 4, 2015

On Tuesday, a state politician confirmed that Daimler AG plans to build Mercedes-Benz Sprinter vans in South Carolina. South Carolina State Representative Chip Limehouse revealed that he was informed by North Charleston officials about the German automaker’s plan to make the announcement on Friday.

According to Limehouse, Daimler is bringing Sprinter production to its assembly plant in Ladson, which is located near Charleston. The move will reportedly add 1,200 jobs in the area. He also told Reuters that the automaker will assemble the entire van in South Carolina using U.S.-made parts, making the Sprinter a true American-built vehicle.

At present, Daimler only assembles the Sprinter vans in its North Charleston plant. The company manufactures the vans in kit forms at its Duesseldorf and Ludwigsfelde facilities in Germany. These kits are then shipped to South Carolina for reassembly. Daimler started assembling and selling the vans in the United States in 2001.

Daimler, the parent company of Mercedes-Benz, declined to comment on the matter. A spokeswoman told Reuters that they do not comment on speculation, but confirmed that there is a news conference scheduled on Friday where the company will make an announcement. She did not provide any other details.

If Daimler is indeed bringing Sprinter production in South Carolina, it would not be a completely surprising move. The automaker mentioned last fall that it will expand the production footprint of its vans. The company specifically stated plans to move manufacturing to North America to meet demand in the region.

Prior to Limehouse’s confirmation, there were already reports of a major manufacturer about to add more than a thousand jobs in the Charleston area. According to Live 5 News, the secret project was dubbed by state and county officials as “Project Unicorn.” It was also described as “Boeing-esque.”

In other Daimler news, the automaker revealed it is not threatened by potential rivals from the technology and telecom fields. Chief Executive Dieter Zetsche said at the Geneva International Motor Show that he finds “tremendous opportunity in the convergence” of the auto industry and new competition in the form of Google and Apple. He implied that the company is ready to take on competition from all sides. Speaking of competition, Daimler seems to have been inspired by the success of Tesla Motors Inc. with its flagship Model S sedan. Zetsche mentioned that the company may expand its electric vehicle lineup, and that they are currently assessing if they could soon develop a large luxury EV.

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