Georgia in the running again for Sprinter?

Maybe the third time with Sprinter will be the charm.

A newspaper report Friday said Daimler AG was yet again looking at Georgia’s “megasite” in Pooler, near Savannah, for a Sprinter van plant. Daimler twice kicked the tires there last decade but never sealed a deal to build a factory.

Andrea Berg, a spokeswoman with Daimler in New York, confirmed earlier statements that the company has decided to build a new van plant in “the NAFTA region,” which is North America and refers to the well-known trade agreement. The United States, she said, is the second-largest sales market for the vans with nearly 26,000 unit sales in 2014.

But she declined to identify the locations the company has scouted or respond to “rumors and speculation.” A spokeswoman with the state Department of Economic Development said her agency has not shown the property to an automaker in the past few years, though the state continues to market the property to manufacturers.

The Atlanta Business Chronicle reported Daimler and other manufacturers, including a different auto company, were scouting the site.

The speculation that Georgia could again be on Daimler's mind comes the same month as it's Mercedes-Benz subsidiary announced plans to move its U.S. division headquarters to metro Atlanta.

Georgia twice thought it had a deal with Daimler for a van production facility. Former Gov. Roy Barnes, in the midst of a heated re-election campaign, famously announced in 2002 a deal with the German auto giant. The plan called for more than 3,000 workers.

But Daimler representatives refused to confirm a deal, saying at the time that “if” it built a factory, it would be in Pooler. The company said then it was still studying the market. The administration of Sonny Perdue kept at it, but the hoped-for jobs bonanza fizzled as Daimler announced plans in 2005 for a much smaller facility near Charleston, S.C.

Daimler currently assembles Sprinter vans sent over as kits from Europe. Berg said the kit assembly of Sprinter vans is “not sustainable” and a full-fledged assembly plant is needed to keep up with U.S. demand.

“We will decide the location for future production of the Sprinters in the NAFTA region in the next few months, as part of our normal location selection process,” Berg said in an email.

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