The auto industry has come a long way in its recovery from the global recession, and the resulting optimism among automakers suggests that production volumes will continue to grow in the coming years.

Since bottoming out at 12.6 million units in 2009, light vehicle sales in North America have grown by an annual average of 10%, with sales reaching a total of 18.3 million in 2013. Mimicking sales trends, production in North America has also grown over the past few years to keep up with recovering demand. 

According to LMC Automotive data,  a total of 16.1 million vehicles were produced in North America in 2013, up from just 11.8 million in 2010 (an increase of 37%). With sales growth expected to continue in earnest over the next few years, production is projected to increase by an additional 10% over 2013 levels to 17.6 million units in 2016.


While the jump in volume has much to do with a steady increase of existing model production, there are a number of all-new and next-generation vehicles – as well as manufacturing facilities – that are expected to come to market in the next few years. An examination of LMC’s production forecast data reveals when, where and in what volume these models will be produced over the next three years.

This post focuses on three manufacturers: Daimler (Mercedes-Benz), Fiat-Chrysler Group and Fuji Heavy Industries (Subaru). It’s the first post in a three-part series; the second and third posts will focus on six additional manufacturers.

Daimler (Mercedes-Benz)

In late 2013, the assembly lines at Nissan’s new $2 billion Aguascalientes, Mexico plant began running, but analysts predicted that the company most likely had plans of adding multiple models to maximize capacity because the facility could support four different cars on multiple platforms.

Given that the size of the factory exceeds Nissan’s near-term product plans, it is said that an agreement reached between Renault-Nissan and Daimler as part of an existing alliance will see Mercedes begin production of its all-new GLA compact crossover at the plant in 2015; this will push plant production from just under 7,000 units a year to nearly 25,000 in 2016.

Mercedes-Benz has high aspirations for its 2015 C-Class and with its lofty sales goals comes changes in where it will be manufactured. Starting later this year, the next-generation car will be built in the brand’s Vance, Alabama site instead of being imported from Europe and 40,000 units are expected to roll off the line this year before climbing to over 88,000 two years later. The addition of these two models equates to a 240,000 unit increase in North American output by 2016.


Fiat-Chrysler Group

After numerous delays of the launch of the all-new Jeep Cherokee, the SUV finally made it to market in October 2013 and sales over the past few months have indicated very high demand. Last year, 73,000 Cherokees were manufactured at the company’s Toledo North Assembly Plant in Ohio and well over 200,000 units are forecasted to be built every year through 2016. Meanwhile, at the Sterling Heights South Assembly Plant in Michigan, Jeep Grand Cherokee production will be added in mid-2015 along with a new Jeep Wagoneer, a pricier seven-passenger SUV, and combined the two utilities will add 34,000 units of production in 2015 and over 90,000 the following year. As the Grand Cherokee is already one of Chrysler’s most profitable and highest-volume models, the automaker is hoping the Wagoneer can replicate that success at an even higher price point, which would help cover the $1 billion that is committed to updating the factory.

Through 2016, however, production will slowly decline for Fiat-Chrysler as the Jeep Compass and Jeep Patriot are likely to be discontinued this year. In two years, production at the Belvidere, Indiana facility that builds the two vehicles will go from 306,000 units to only 144,000 and the loss in volume at that plant alone will surpass the company’s total drop. Thus, in the three years after 2013, Fiat-Chrysler Group’s production figure will fall 8% to 2.28 million units. 


Fuji Heavy Industries (Subaru)

Subaru’s Lafayette, Indiana factory has built the Camry mid-size sedan for Toyota since 2007, but with the brand gaining momentum like never before, Toyota will transition production of its car elsewhere once its contract ends in 2016. At that time, Subaru has plans to build its Impreza, WRX and WRX STI models at its U.S. manufacturing facility as opposed to continuing to import them from Japan. However, even before determining to make this move, the automaker already made the decision to invest in a $400 million expansion of the plant to satiate demand. While only 324 additional units are forecasted in 2016, the production growth will be sure to come in subsequent years.