Mercedes-Benz to build popular AMG models in East London

Mercedes-Benz SA is pumping more than R200 million to produce three AMG models for the local and international market

Given that South Africa is one of the biggest consumers of the German luxury carmaker’s high-performance AMG models, it makes sense that Mercedes-Benz SA (MBSA) has made the decision to invest millions into its manufacturing plant in East London.

Speaking at the group’s financial results presentation earlier this week, MBSA CEO Arno van der Merwe announced that the company would be introducing the C43 AMG 4Matic, the C63 S AMG and the C63 AMG to its production line in the second half of the year.

While the vehicles’ hand-built engines will continue to be manufactured in Germany and brought into the country, all other components would be manufactured locally.

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MBSA enjoyed a good production year in the 2016 financial year, increasing production by 12% to manufacture over 114 000 cars and more than 4500 commercial vehicles.

It was also the year that the group began producing its first plug-in hybrid car, the C350e, with just under 2000 vehicles exported thus far.

Despite a decline in local sales, MBSA’s revenue rose by 10,8% to R73,4 billion driven largely by strong exports.

“This year the South African economy has faced severe headwinds. With the threat of investment status downgrading by ratings agencies, the exchange rate environment was and remains volatile,” van der Merwe was quoted saying in an Engineering News report.

“However, we continued to steadily increase local production of the C-Class, also introducing C350e hybrid models for export thereby increasing foreign currency earnings to balance exchange rate pressures within the business.”

Merc’s announcement comes as its parent company Daimler AG deals with the global recall of 1 million sedans and SUV models after 51 cars caught alight around the world as a result of an ignition problem.

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Daimler has identified around 5100 vehicles in SA that are affected by the recall.

Daimler discovered earlier this year that the starting current limiter in certain A-Class, B-Class, C-Class and E-Class cars as well as CLA, GLA and GLC SUVs manufactured between 2015 and 2017 could overload in certain instances when drivers try to start the car.

The problem occurs in vehicles where the engine has been damaged or when the engine has hydrolocked. When you try to start the car numerous times, a high electric current could run through the starting current limiter which causes the engine to overheat and potentially catch alight.

Work to repair the issue is expected to get underway towards mid-year when parts become available.

MBSA has assured that affected owners will be contacted in due course.