Mercedes-Benz expands manufacturing footprint in the U.S.
Mercedes-Benz has announced it will set up electric vehicle production in the United States. The company plans to produce EQ-branded SUV models at MBUSI (Mercedes-Benz U.S. International), its Tuscaloosa, AL, facility. In addition, a battery plant will be built near the existing passenger-car plant. In total, Mercedes-Benz plans to invest $1 billion in the expansion of its industrial footprint in the region, most of which is slated for its electric initiative. It is expected that once completed, these investments will create more than 600 additional jobs. Final details of the plans are still being developed in partnership with the State of Alabama.
"We are excited to celebrate 20 years of production in Tuscaloosa by expanding our operations in the region and by bringing our electric initiative to the United States. With this $1 billion investment, we are significantly growing our manufacturing footprint here in Alabama, while sending a clear message to our customers across the U.S. and around the world: Mercedes-Benz will continue to be on the cutting-edge of electric vehicle development and production," said Markus Schäfer, Member of the Divisional Board of Mercedes-Benz Cars, Production and Supply Chain. "With production locations for EVs and batteries in Europe, China, and, now, the U.S., our global network is ready for the era of electric vehicles. Thanks to our plant modernization in Tuscaloosa, we will be able to quickly ramp up U.S. production of EQ models, while also being more flexible to our customers' demands for innovative vehicles that live up to the excellent quality that is synonymous with the Mercedes-Benz brand."
In addition to the electric initiative, the logistics activities in the U.S. will be expanded with a new Global Logistics Center and a new after-sales North American hub, exporting car-kits to global assembly plants and spare parts from the U.S. and North America to worldwide markets.
The plant in Tuscaloosa exclusively produces the SUV models GLE, GLS, and GLE Coupé. With the upcoming production of the next SUV generation, the plant will enhance its portfolio with modern plug-in hybrids. Mercedes-Benz will start producing SUV models of the EQ brand in Tuscaloosa at the beginning of the next decade. EQ models will be integrated into the series production at the plant. By 2022, the company says it will electrify the entire portfolio of Mercedes. The company is planning to offer more than 50 electrified vehicle variants. At the same time, Mercedes-Benz will be continuously supporting the development of plug-in hybrids and the introduction of 48-volt systems. The first EQ series model, EQC, will go into production in 2019 in Bremen, Germany. Technology and product brand EQ is an integral part of CASE, which stands for the intelligent combination of the strategic pillars of connectivity (Connected), autonomous driving (Autonomous), flexible use (Shared & Services), and electric drive systems (Electric).
The battery factory near the Tuscaloosa plant will be part of the global battery production network of Mercedes-Benz Cars for local demand and export. In total, Daimler will invest $1.18 billion in the battery production network, which will also include production facilities in Germany and China. Construction work for the new 1 million square-foot facility in Tuscaloosa is expected to begin in 2018, with operations planned to start at the beginning of the next decade.