After spending some $500 million on construction, the Mercedes-Benz Van division announced Wednesday that its new production facility in North Charleston, South Carolina, is up and running. The plant was first announced in 2015 and construction began the next year.
Mercedes said that the plant would employ 900 people at first, with that number to rise to 1,300 by the end of 2020. The plant will build its popular Sprinter van at the North Charleston plant — and it already has one massive customer.
Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) increased its original order (for an unspecified number) to 20,000 Amazon-branded Sprinter vans for the e-commerce giant’s Delivery Service Partner program that was first announced in late June.
Volker Mornhinweg, head of Mercedes-Benz Vans, commented:
The USA is already the second largest market for our Sprinter today. With the new, state-of-the-art production site in South Carolina, we will be able to supply our customers in North America even faster and with more flexibility in the future. This makes better use of the dynamic market potential, placing our new plant in North Charleston as a central component of our growth strategy.
Amazon’s senior vice-president of worldwide operations, Dave Clark, added:
We’re proud to partner with Mercedes-Benz Vans to contribute to local economies through the order of Amazon-branded Sprinter vans produced at their new plant in North Charleston. Thanks to the tremendous response to Amazon’s new Delivery Service Partner program, we are excited to increase our original order of branded Sprinter vans to 20,000 vehicles so new small businesses will have access to a customized fleet to power deliveries of Amazon packages.
The expanded Mercedes plant now covers nearly 10 million square feet and, together with the office building, sits on some 41 acres of land. The new factory expands upon the existing van assembly plant with additional facilities, including body shop, paint shop and final assembly.
In addition to their use as a delivery vehicle, Sprinter vans are popular among the outdoor set. Several after-market companies in the United States will convert these vans for use as campers.
North Charleston is also the home of a Boeing assembly plant that builds the 787 Dreamliner.