Mercedes-Benz has begun local vehicle production at its new passenger-car plant in Iracemápolis, Brazil, Mercedes-Benz has announced.

The company has invested BRL 600 million ($168 million) in the plant, which is near Sao Paulo and has an annual capacity of 20,000 vehicles. The plant is now producing C-Class vehicles and will begin to produce the GLA-Class compact SUV this summer.

This expansion is part of the company's "Mercedes-Benz 2020" growth strategy that calls for the launch of 30 new passenger-car plants by the end of 2020. Iracemápolis is part of the global assembly network, connecting them to all Mercedes-Benz Cars locations. This gives the site access to production data and process management.

“The opening of the Mercedes-Benz Iracemápolis plant is a further milestone in the development of our flexible and efficient production network,” said Markus Schäfer, member of the divisional board of Mercedes-Benz Cars, manufacturing and supply chain management.

Construction on the plant was completed 19 months after approval of the concept. In setting up the plant, Mecedes-Benz worked with SENAI, the Brazilian national service for industrial training, to recruit and train its workforce and set up a Training Centre in Iracemápolis.

Employees were sent to Mercedes-Benz passenger-car plants in India, Germany and Hungary to familiarize themselves with the production process for compact models. The company is also offering healthcare for the employees and setting up scholarships with local schools.

Originally posted on Automotive Fleet