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by David Zalstein

Audi has signalled the official start of construction of its new $1.1 billion Mexico plant, laying the foundation stone for what will be its first factory on the American continent.

Located in San Jose Chiapa, Mexico, the new 900 million euro, 400-hectare Audi facility will produce the successor to the current Audi Q5 SUV from mid-2016, with a targeted annual production capacity of up to 150,000 units.

AUDI AG: Grundsteinlegung fuer neues Werk in San Jos  Chiapa/Mexiko

Expected to create 3800 direct jobs, the Mexico plant will comprise a body shop, paint shop, assembly line and press shop, along with a training centre.

Audi says with the new plant situated at an altitude of 2400 meters above sea level on the Central Mexican Plateau, the new production facility will not only be the highest factory but also the most modern in its global production network.

Chairman of the board of management of Audi AG, Rupert Stadler, said the new Mexico facility would give significant impetus to Audi’s global growth.

“Our seal of quality is ‘made by Audi.’ This promise applies worldwide, irrespective of where an Audi is built.”

Audi Q5

Mazda will build cars – including Toyota vehicles – at a plant in Salamanca city in Mexico from 2015, while Nissan, General Motors and Ford already have plants there. Audi’s parent company, the Volkswagen Group, has a Volkswagen plant in Puebla City and an engine plant in Silao.

According to Reuters, Mexico is the eighth largest producer of vehicles in the world.

Audi Mexico is part of a 13 billion euro ($16.5 billion) plan to boost growth over the next four years, and will join a manufacturing site in Gyor, Hungary, and assembly lines in Foshan, China.