With production of left-hand-drive C-Class sedans already under way in Sindelfingen and Bremen, Germany, DaimlerChrysler AG's Mercedes-Benz Div. soon will turn to South Africa for its right-hand-drive C-Class models. Annual production of 40,000 units will start in September at the East London plant for rhd markets in South Africa, the U.K., Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Malta, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Hong Kong and Ireland. The automaker has invested 170 million ($155 million) in the factory for a new paint shop and other machining. Juergen Hubbert, DaimlerChrysler AG board member in charge of Mercedes, says the automaker already is building the C-Class in South Africa for the Australian market as a test to see if Mercedes quality can be achieved outside of Germany. Australian customers said they saw no difference in the quality, he says, which encouraged the company to increase production at the plant.

- Compiled by Barbara McClellan and the Ward's Automotive International staff