Top executives of Mercedes-Benz visited Alabama in October to take part in a groundbreaking ceremony of a new battery plant in Tuscaloosa and to witness the new Mercedes-Benz GLE SUV come off the line.
The battery plant, part of a $1 billion investment the company announced last year, is one of only eight the company is building around the world. “We aim to play a pioneering role in the development of e-mobility and are well-prepared to accomplish this mission,” Markus Schäfer, member of the Divisional Board of Mercedes-Benz Cars, Production and Supply Chain, told those in attendance.
Tuscaloosa is one of six sites being prepared for EQ models. Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey and Jason Hoff, president and CEO of Mercedes-Benz U.S International, were among the distinguished guests at the Oct. 5 event.
The new production site for batteries and a new Consolidation Center are located seven miles from the Mercedes-Benz Cars vehicle production site in Tuscaloosa. The Consolidation Center, also part of the 2017 investment announcement, will create kits for overseas export with all parts necessary to assemble a Mercedes vehicle. The center will consist of three major areas, including the body parts preparation area, the assembly parts preparation area and storage for empty containers. It is expected to be operational in 2019. Once completed, these investments will add more than 600 jobs in Alabama.
The Tuscaloosa factory supplies the current GLE, GLE Coupé and GLS models to customers worldwide. These models are made exclusively in Alabama and two thirds of them are exported to almost every country in the world, making MBUSI the second largest automotive exporter in the U.S.
The new GLE boasts a variety of performance enhancements and also offers an optional third row of seats. The E-active-body-control chassis offers a new dimension to its handling and smooth ride.
The new Tuscaloosa battery facility under construction, meanwhile, is part of a global battery production network tied to Kamenz, Germany; Stuttgart-Untertürkheim, Germany; Sindelfingen, Germany; Beijing, China, and Bangkok, Thailand. The global arrangement allows Mercedes-Benz to react flexibly and efficiently to market demands and requirements. The different sites supply local vehicle production and are ready to export batteries, if required.
Mercedes-Benz Cars will offer at least one electrified vehicle in each model series by 2022, totaling up to more than 130 models. Mercedes-Benz is about to start the production of electric passenger cars as part of its worldwide electric initiative. This includes the production of an all-electric SUV in the U.S.