Mercedes-Benz, the third largest luxury automaker in the world, has a vast model lineup that spreads form the compact A Class to the giant R Class.
But unlike the smaller brethren which – along with its classmates (B Class, CLA Class, GLA Class) – has been putting up record after record in terms of sales, the R Class has never gained traction in the United States or almost any other market. The station wagon/crossover vehicle disappeared from the US lineup three years ago even as the company still produces the model at a plant in Vance, Alabama. And it has almost vanished from all of its previous markets save for one: China, the world’s largest auto market. And the tremendous popularity it enjoys in China has made the R-Class the instrument for the revival of the AM General factory in Mishawaka, Indiana – the one that once produced the mighty Hummers. The assembly facility is now building the R-Class next to the MV-1, a van dedicated to handicapped persons manufactured under the specs of a startup company.
This week the first R Class models produced by the AM General factory were churned off the assembly line and the plant may very well be the only one in the country that has its overall automotive production dedicated to China. Putting the R Class in Indiana has allowed Mercedes-Benz the possibility to lift production of other vehicles more popular in the United States – including the C-Class and models of the GL-class (the model previously known as the M-Class sport utility vehicle).