AM General, the company that built the military Humvee and later the commercial Hummer, has been selected by Mercedes-Benz to manufacture its R-Class luxury vehicle.
Because of high demand for the Sport Utility Vehicles built at its Tuscaloosa, Alabama plant and the need for greater production capacity in the U.S, Mercedes-Benz is moving production of its R-Class multipurpose vehicle (MPV) to AM General's Commercial Assembly Plant in Mishawaka, Indiana, near South Bend.
The R-Class, essentially a cross between a minivan and an SUV, failed to achieve sales success in North America or Europe and was withdrawn from the market for 2012. But it has continued to be built in Tuscaloosa for sale in China.
Under the multi-year agreement, AM General becomes Mercedes-Benz's first and only contract manufacturing operator in the U.S. The company expects R-Class vehicles to start rolling off its production lines this summer.
AM General is currently best-known as the maker of the military Humvee (HMMWV) and its commercial variant, the Hummer, as well as other military vehicles. The company continued to build the Hummer, rebranded as the H1, for General Motors after GM bought the brand name.
But the company's history is much deeper – tracing back directy to the Willys Jeep of WWII and before that to Willys, Overland and the Standard Wheel Company of 1903.
AM General was formed from the Defense and Government Products Division of Kaiser-Jeep when that company was purchased by Amercan Motors in 1967 and remained a separate entity as AMC's passenger car business proceeded to its denouement. Since then it has produced more than 1.5 million vehicles