On the occasion of the production of the first new Mercedes-Benz M-Class customer vehicle at the Mercedes-Benz Tuscaloosa plant (Mercedes-Benz U.S. International – MBUSI), Daimler AG announced significant investments for its North American passenger cars plant. A total amount of more than 2 billion US dollars is being invested for the production of the new M-Class, the successor generations of the GL-Class and the C-Class, and the expansion of production capacities.
Dr. Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Daimler Board of Management and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars: “We’re continuing to write new chapters of the plant’s success story with significant investments into the future. Tuscaloosa was the first production location of Mercedes-Benz Cars ever outside Germany, and today it is among our best. As our ‘pioneering plant,’ it is also the blueprint for our new operations in emerging markets.” In a special address to the entire MBUSI team, Zetsche highlighted their contributions: “A big thank you to the team that helped us get that far – all of you!”
MBUSI hosted a special new M-Class “Job 1” Celebration on July 20th in which Markus Schaefer, President and CEO of MBUSI, welcomed the 2,800 MBUSI team members, as well as guests including Alabama Governor Robert Bentley and Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox. Also attending the ceremony with Dr. Dieter Zetsche were Dr. Wolfgang Bernhard, board member Production and Procurement Mercedes-Benz Cars and Mercedes-Benz Vans, Dr. Thomas Weber, board member Group Research and Mercedes-Benz Cars development, and Dr. Joachim Schmidt, Executive Vice President Sales and Marketing, Mercedes-Benz Cars.
Referring to the production launch of the new M-Class, Schaefer said: “Demand for the M-Class in our 14 years of production has clearly surpassed all our expectations – in terms of sales, customer loyalty, and popularity. And customers will soon recognize that our all-new M-Class is again setting new benchmarks in the SUV segment – in terms of efficiency, safety, agility, driving enjoyment and design!”
Schaefer also pointed out the value of the outstanding community relations which MBUSI enjoys: “Today, we also celebrate the successful cooperation we have had with the State of Alabama and local governments since we first announced our decision to come to Alabama. We truly appreciate this leadership.”
Looking back at the disaster of the tornados that hit the South of the U.S. and especially the City of Tuscaloosa on April 27, 2011, Schaefer also announced that MBUSI will donate an additional 100,000 US dollars to Alabama tornado relief and recovery efforts. On May 05, Daimler and MBUSI had committed a cash donation of 1 million US dollars to a number of charities in West and Central Alabama to support emergency and reconstruction projects and to help the Alabama community begin on this path to recovery.
The Tuscaloosa plant was founded in 1995 and started production in 1997. The Mercedes-Benz M-Class was the first product and has been built ever since, later joined by the SUVs of the GL- and R-Class. In 2010, the plant produced more than 125,000 vehicles and employed some 2,800 team members at the end of the year.
As of 2014, the Tuscaloosa plant will also produce the successor generation of the current C-Class for the North American market – as one of the four global production locations along with the C-Class center of competence in Bremen, Germany, the South African plant in East London, and the Chinese Production location Beijing Benz Automotive Co., Ltd. (BBAC).