Daimler labour chief queries pace of U.S. expansion on weak euro
STUTTGART Feb 25 (Reuters) - Daimler's plans to expand production in the United States should be recalibrated if the euro remains weak against the dollar, the car and truck automaker's top labour chief Michael Brecht said.
In October last year, Daimler announced it will shift some production of its Mercedes-Benz Sprinter vans from its factory in Duesseldorf, Germany, to a new plant somewhere in the United States, Mexico or Canada.
But the weakening of the euro relative to the dollar in recent months has made factories in Europe more competitive, compared to a year ago, when strategic decisions were made on the basis of a dollar euro exchange rate of $1.35, Brecht said.
Today the dollar euro exchange rate is around $1.13.
"If the situation stays like this over a longer period, then the question is: Do I go in now, or can I do it later," Brecht said at a roundtable discussion in Stuttgart, in remarks that were embargoed for Wednesday.
Currently most Sprinters destined for the U.S. market have been produced in kit form at plants in Duesseldorf and Ludwigsfelde, and then shipped to be reassembled in Charleston, South Carolina.
The United States is now the Sprinter's second-largest sales market after Germany.
Brecht said some projects which had been agreed upon, but not yet fully implemented, may be amended. He declined to elaborate on which projects he had in mind.
Daimler announced expansion steps last year. It said it would build a factory in Aguascalientes, Mexico, and would produce four-cylinder engines for Mercedes at a Nissan plant in Tennessee.
In September, Daimler also said it would start producing the C-Class Sedan currently being built in Bremen, Germany, at its plant in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
In Germany, Daimler is working to increase production efficiency at its plants by 2 to 3 percent every year, Brecht said. (Reporting by Edward Taylor; editing by Jason Neely)
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