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Mercedes-Benz To Invest $1.3 Billion In Expansion of SUV Production, Focus On Tuscaloosa Plant

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Mercedes-Benz said it will expand tSUV production in the US and will create 300 new jobs.

“In the next years we invest $1.3 billion into the expansion of our SUV production and turn the Mercedes-Benz plant Tuscaloosa into a high-tech location,” says Markus Schäfer, Member of the Divisional Board Mercedes-Benz Cars, Manufacturing and Supply Chain Management. “In this way we can produce the next SUV generations even more flexibly, efficiently and in proven top quality.”

The Mercedes-Benz plant Tuscaloosa will also assemble the next SUV generations including the hybrid versions.

According to Mercedes-Benz, the plant expansion in this context includes a new Body Shop, major enhancements to the SUV Assembly Shop as well as upgraded logistics and IT systems. State-of-the-art technologies and an end-to-end digitization of production processes enable a highly flexible production. As part of the global production network, Tuscaloosa is connected to all Mercedes-Benz Cars locations around the world, allowing a location-independent access to data and process management. Every single installation and every robot, for example, can be controlled and updated to new software programs. Big Data applications will be used for intelligent analyses and for an improvement of the production processes, Mercedes-Benz said.

“With this expansion and modernization of our plant, we will create 300 new jobs and continue the success story of Mercedes-Benz in Tuscaloosa,” said Jason Hoff, President and CEO of MBUSI. “Our entire team is proud to reinforce the State of Alabama’s growing reputation as a leader in high-quality automotive manufacturing.”

Mercedes-Benz said the new 1.3-million square foot (125,000 square meters) Body Shop will use the latest lightweight technologies with innovative joining processes and employ a modular approach to manufacturing. MBUSI’s current SUV Assembly Shop will be expanded by 139,930 square feet (13,000 square meters) and receive a larger, more flexible “marriage” station, where the body is merged with the powertrain, allowing for production of a wider range of vehicles. The plant will also upgrade its Logistics IT system to create a seamless integration of the supply base into the Mercedes-Benz plant operations.

The Mercedes-Benz Tuscaloosa plant (Mercedes-Benz U.S. International – MBUSI) was the first major automaker to open a passenger car facility in Alabama. To date, Mercedes-Benz has made a $4.5 billion capital investment in the Tuscaloosa operations, the company said.

The plant was founded in 1995 and started production of the GLE (Formerly M-Class) in 1997, which is now being built in the 3rd generation. The plant added the R-Class in 2005, the GL in 2006, and the new C-Class sedan for the North American market in 2014. In August 2015, production of R-Class vehicles was moved to the U.S. contract manufacturer AM-General in Mishawaka, Indiana to free production capacities to be used for the SUV series. The latest expansion is geared towards the next SUV generations including the hybrid versions.
MBUSI produced more than 232,000 vehicles in 2014 and is on track to exceed 300,000 vehicles in 2015. To date, more than 2.2 million vehicles have rolled off the plant’s line for customers around the world.

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