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Daimler mulls new North America plant: magazine

A shareholder arrives to a Daimler AG annual shareholder meeting in Berlin, April 4, 2012. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch
A shareholder arrives to a Daimler AG annual shareholder meeting in Berlin, April 4, 2012. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Germany's Daimler AG may build a new factory in North America if demand for compact cars picks up, the head of production and procurement at Mercedes-Benz Cars was quoted saying by a German car magazine.

"Next year we will begin to manufacture the C-class in Tuscaloosa, though we will then be getting close to the capacity limit at that plant," Andreas Renschler said in an interview with Auto Motor und Sport.

"In China, we have an engine plant that has gone on stream, which will be followed by an engine plant in the United States, and for our next generation compact car platform, we'll have to think about a location in the NAFTA area, if demand for compact models rises there," Renschler added, referring to the North American Free Trade Agreement linking the United States, Canada and Mexico.

He noted that in addition to the C-class production starting next year at Tuscaloosa, a new SUV would be built at the plant from 2015. "We are close to our capacity there," he said.

Mercedes produces about two thirds of its cars in Germany but 80 percent of its sales come from outside the country, Renschler said. "Therefore, the share of cars that are produced overseas has to rise," he said.

Renschler said last month Daimler was examining the joint production of small luxury vehicles with Japan's Nissan Motor Co Ltd <7201.T> at a Nissan plant in Mexico.

Asked by the magazine if the cooperation might one day lead to Mercedes building Nissan's luxury Infiniti models, while Nissan builds Mercedes cars, Renschler said: "I can imagine lots of things in the compact segment but it is unlikely for other platforms."

Separately, German newspaper Bild on Thursday reported that Mercedes-Benz had sold the most cars in one month in its history in September, boosted by strong demand in China and North America, particularly for compact models.

Earlier this week Daimler said it would spend around 170 million euros ($231 million) to set up a plant in Iracemapolis near Sao Paulo in Brazil, where it aims to manufacture up to 20,000 Mercedes-Benz C-Class and GLA cars annually, with the first models expected to roll off the assembly line as early as 2016.

(Reporting by Jonathan Gould; Editing by David Holmes)

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