Ground has been broken for a new Mercedes-Benz Sprinter plant in North Charleston, South Carolina.
The Sprinter is one of the best-selling commercial vans of all-time. It was introduced in 1995.
The new plant, an expansion of an existing van assembly site, will supply the North American market. The groundbreaking ceremony was attended by South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and head of Mercedes-Benz Volker Mornhinweg.
The investment in the new plant will be about $500 million dollars; as many as 400 new jobs in and around North Charleston will be created.
Construction will be done in phases, beginning with a body shop and paint shop and then assembly lines late this year. Sprinter production should begin before 2020.
"The groundbreaking also marks an important milestone for our growth strategy 'Mercedes-Benz Vans goes global': With our new plant we will continue with our success story in North America even more dynamically," Mornhinweg said.
Gov. Haley said the groundbreaking was a continuation of a "successful partnership that our friends at Daimler and Mercedes-Benz Vans have enjoyed" for many years.
"We are proud to say that Mercedes-Benz vans will now be made in South Carolina," she added.
Frank Klein, Head of Operations Mercedes-Benz Vans, called the new Sprinter plant "a big leap into the future" of production at Mercedes-Benz vans.
"We are combining all of our global expertise and experience in this plant. In doing so, we make it one of the most advanced facilities in North America," he said. "The plant will meet the highest standards in quality, based on our globally standardized production system — from the first vehicle that rolls off the assembly line."
Michael Balke, incoming CEO of Mercedes-Benz Vans LLC and director of production at the new plant, agreed.
"Construction and all necessary preparations are right on schedule," he said.
The new facility will add over 1 million square feet to the current 409,000 square-foot facility in North Charleston. To date, all Sprinter vans have been produced at German plants.