By on March 25, 2015


Who among all automakers has the highest labor costs in the United States? A study points to Mercedes-Benz.

According to Reuters, a study of 2014 labor costs by the Center for Automotive Research found that the automaker’s sole U.S. plant in Vance, Ala. averages $65/hour, while Volkswagen and BMW held the lowest averages overall and among the transplants, coming out to $38 and $39 per hour, respectively.

As mentioned previously, General Motors and Ford have the highest costs among the Detroit Three, averaging $58 and $57 per hour compared to FCA US’ $48. The three automakers are also the only ones whose employees are represented by the United Auto Workers, whose 2007 contract created the two-tier wage system meant to help the trio remain competitive against the transplants, as well as to stay afloat during the darkest days of the Great Recession.

Other automakers with business in the U.S. include Honda ($49/hr.), Toyota ($48/hr.), Nissan ($42/hr.), and Hyundai/Kia ($41/hr.).

The averages in the study were based on pay for both direct-hire and temporary employees working full-time. The research group also found that Japanese transplants had the highest percentages of temporary employees, helping to cut down on labor costs.

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11 Comments on “Study: Mercedes Holds Highest Average Labor Costs Among US Manufacturers...”

  • avatar

    “The Best or Nothing”… Gottlieb Daimler

  • avatar

    Maybe Mercedes has more robots and needs few very high qualified workets vs. GM just hammering the car together. And what about overheadcost for bookkeeping etc? Mercefes doesn’t have to pay idle workers, so they can afford to pay actual workers more.

    More important would be how many paid hours it takes to build one car. If one Mercedes employee builds 10 cars while the UAW employee is on dope break, he deserves the higher rate.

    And what about cost of livin? The HK pay could be worth more when expenses are low.

    These out of context numbets…

    • 0 avatar
      heavy handle

      Exactly. You always read about how some plant or other builds cars using 16 hours of labor or less. That’s only $1000 labor per unit.

      They probably save more than that on lower warranty claims that come from having well paid and happier employees.

  • avatar

    Eagerly waiting the commenters to show up that gloat about how unaffordable VWs labor rates are. This affirms my beliefs that the majority of the haters here have never even owned what they claim to know so much about.

    In all the years of vehicle ownership, I’ve by far spent the most time at a Ford dealership. We are on our 3rd Ford and they have all been equally troublesome although my F350 lightened my wallet by far the most.

  • avatar

    GM and Ford treat their workers like expenses while other manufacturers treat their workers like assets. That attitude is the whole reason the UAW exists, but also why they can’t get into the Japanese plants. I’m sure there’s more to the story, but that’s my short take on the situation.

  • avatar

    Percentage part time vs full for flexibility. Also saves on pension costs.

  • avatar

    Just goes to show you, the machines matter more than the people making the cars, no matter how much you pay the people.

  • avatar

    Unless you know how the numbers are calculated, they don’t tell much.

    Which overhead items are included in each automaker’s calculation?

    It is easy to envision that the Mercedes value could be the result of comparable fixed costs spread over a smaller number of workers; thus having little relationship to actual rate of pay.

    • 0 avatar

      Thank you.

      A respectable article will cite it’s sources and provide such data. The Reuters article makes no attempt to do that. As such, we can’t really conclude anything.

      Reuters (and to a lesser degree TTAC) know this, but don’t care. They want you to jump to conclusions, without the necessary information. People jumping to conclusions helps their numbers.

  • avatar

    Isn’t MB’s alabama plant known for all sorts of horrible quality issues though?

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