Mercedes Chief Dieter Zetsche is confident the company will retain the number one spot as the top U.S. luxury automaker in 2014 as the first American-made sedan rolls off the assembly line in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. But for Zetsche, building the C-Class, which has moved upmarket with its latest redesign, in the U.S. may just be the start of the German automaker's ambitious plans to deliver even smaller, less-expensive Mercedes to the masses. While it may be a while before the higher-end E-Class or S-class are manufactured on U.S. shores, Zetsche is excited about a new joint venture Mercedes announced earlier this summer with Renault Nissan. Zetsche says it's compact car lineup is 'expanding rapidly and for the next generation we need even more capacity and there is none in North America.' The plant is expected to start production in early 2017. Right now, Zetsche has a bird's eye view of luxury spending around the world. In China, Mercedes has seen a double digit growth rate and he expects the growth momentum there to continue. In Europe, Zetsche said he expects the economic recovery to continue, but at an even slower pace than in the first half of 2014. Globally, he said, 'The overall picture looks pretty bright but of course there are some clouds in the sky and we have to see how they will develop.'
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