Automotive interior supplier Johnson Controls has expanded its manufacturing plant in Cottondale, Alabama to supply interior systems for two vehicles built by Mercedes-Benz.

The facility's size has been nearly doubled - expanding from 168,000 square feet to 320,000 square feet - to handle new business and additional seating and interior product lines.

In December 2004, Johnson Controls launched production of a number of interior systems and components for the 2006 Mercedes-Benz M Class sport-utility vehicle. The company currently supplies automotive seat systems, door panels, overhead systems, hard trim, compass modules and its HomeLink wireless control systems for M-Class vehicles. Since the Cottondale plant opened in 1996, Johnson Controls has been manufacturing products for M-Class models assembled in Vance, Alabama.

Beginning later this year, the facility will supply a number of automotive products for 2006 R-class vehicles. For the new model, Johnson Controls will produce seat systems, door panels, overhead systems, hard trim, second-row floor consoles, compass modules and HomeLink. The R-class will be the second vehicle manufactured by the automaker at its Vance assembly plant.

The automaker will receive shipments of seats and other interior systems - manufactured on a "just-in-time" basis at the Johnson Controls plant - as they are required on vehicle assembly lines. The expansion of the facility in Cottondale created approximately 500 new jobs at the site.

Currently, Johnson Controls supplies seats, overhead components, electronics, other interior components and batteries for a number of Mercedes-Benz models in Africa, Asia, Europe, North and South America.