Daimler Adds Shift at Hungary Plant to Make More Compacts

Mercedes-Benz, the world’s third-largest maker of luxury vehicles, is adding a third shift at a plant in Hungary to keep up with demand for its compact cars.

The extra shift at the factory in Kecskemet will start in May, Stuttgart, Germany-based parent company Daimler AG said today in a statement. The plant, which makes the van-like B-Class and the CLA four-door coupe, will continue to produce on selected Saturdays in 2014 after adding work on the weekend day last year.

“Our production has hardly kept up with the dynamic sales development of our compacts,” Chief Executive Officer Dieter Zetsche said in the statement. “This allows us to serve the wishes of our customers around the world even better and timelier.”

The extra shift in Kecskemet follows other moves by Mercedes to boost production of entry-level vehicles. In October 2012, Mercedes added a third shift to a factory in Rastatt, Germany, that makes the A-Class hatchback, the GLA compact sport-utility vehicle and the B-Class. Finnish manufacturer Valmet Automotive Inc. began building the A-Class for Mercedes last year under a contract to produce more than 100,000 of the model through 2016.

The compacts are key to Zetsche’s goal for Mercedes to surpass Munich-based Bayerische Motoren Werke AG in sales by the end of the decade.

Daimler employed about 3,400 people at the Kecskemet site at the end of 2013, and staffing will increase with the additional shift, said Sebastian Wahle, a company spokesman. The factory produced about 109,000 cars last year.

Mercedes’s global vehicle sales have risen faster than at its premium-segment competitors in recent months, boosted by demand for the compact vehicles. Sales of the cars jumped 30 percent in the first two months of 2014, fueling a 17 percent gain for the brand.

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