Mercedes Goes Electric with $1B in Alabama

You spend a billion dollars here, a billion dollars there, and pretty soon it adds up to real money. That almost seemed to be the gist of an odd Twitter exchange that occurred shortly after Daimler announced it would invest $1 billion to expand its industrial footprint in Tuscaloosa, with an eye toward producing electric vehicles there at the start of the next decade.

By 2022, the company wants to electrify the entire portfolio of Mercedes, offering customers at least one electrified alternative in all segments from smart to large SUVs.

The conversation started Sept. 24 on Twitter, just after Daimler’s big announcement. “That’s not a lot of money for a giant like Daimler/Mercedes. Wish they’d do more. Off by a zero, ” opined Elon Musk. The billionaire has plans, but not much track record so far, to disrupt the automotive industry with his Tesla line of electric vehicles.

Unfazed, Daimler responded from its own Twitter profile. “You’re absolutely right @elonmusk, ” the company tweeted. “Here the missing zero.” The company then inserted a link showing it plans to spend up to $10 billion globally on its electric vehicle investment, including a brand new battery plant near the existing Tuscaloosa facility, its fifth battery plant worldwide.

“Good, ” was Musk’s succinct, tweeted reply.

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Mercedes plans to produce EQ-branded SUV models at the Tuscaloosa facility that will feature the latest enhancements of automated driving. The plant currently builds the SUV models GLE, GLS and GLE Coupé. With the upcoming production of the next SUV generation, the plant will enhance its proven production portfolio with modern plug-in hybrids, responding flexibly and efficiently to market demand.

“Looking back on 20 years of production, the Mercedes-Benz plant in Tuscaloosa has been a success story from the beginning, ” said Jason Hoff, CEO of Mercedes-Benz U.S. International during the “All Team Member” meeting in September. “We are now continuing this story with a clear vision for the era of electric mobility.”

Text by Dave Helms

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