Cyril Ramaphosa and Markus SchäferGerman manufacturer Mercedes-Benz Cars is to spend €600m ($697m) on the assembly of the next generation of C-Class models at its plant in East London, South Africa.

Factory space for passenger vehicle production will increase by two-thirds and include new logistic warehouses, paint and body shopand an upgrade of the assembly shop with the addition of three lines.

The new body shop is being designed for higher capacities and features more than 500 Internet of Things-ready robots laying the foundation for Industry 4.0, the company said.

By utilising new methods, the paint shop will be more energy efficient and environmentally friendly, it added. With other planned initiatives, Mercedes-Benz expects the plant’s overall energy consumption will be reduced by 25% per vehicle.

The investment coincides with the 60th anniversary of Mercedes-Benz passenger vehicle production starting at East London. Markus Schäfer, who is in charge of production and supply chain on Mercedes-Benz Cars’ divisional board, commented: “The investment is also a sign of our commitment to South Africa and efforts to revive economic growth.”

The capital expenditure and expansion were made public during a visit by South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa,who said: “The announcement by Mercedes-Benz Cars to inject 10 billion rand in the South African economy signals the momentum we are making to realise the target of raising 1.2 trillion rand in new investment.”

The C-Class sedans produced at the 3,300-employee plant are exported to right-hand and left-hand drive markets. The East London factory also produces Mercedes-Benz trucks and buses as well Fuso brand trucks.