DaimlerChrysler AG’s Mercedes-Benz unit begins production of a new Sprinter commercial van at its plant in Ludwigsfelde, Germany.

The investment for the new vehicle totals €1.8 billion ($2.3 billion), with top priority being improved workmanship and long-term quality through more galvanized sheet metal and better underbody protection, the auto maker says.

Some €300 million ($376 million) was invested in the Ludwigsfelde facility for the new Sprinter. Major improvements include new paint and body shops and an all-new automated production line.

The plant currently operates on two shifts, and a third shift is scheduled to be added later. The Sprinter also will be produced in Dusseldorf, Germany, DC says.

DC CEO Dieter Zetsche, who also heads the Mercedes Car Group, says the decision to build the Sprinter in Ludwigsfelde safeguards the plant’s 1,500 workers, along with those employed at nearby suppliers.

About 500 new jobs will be added at the plant, as well.