Mercedes-Benz Plant Celebrates Milestone on Valentine’s Day: 20 Years of Production in Alabama

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  • February 14th also marks 20 Years of Auto Production for Alabama
  • Multiple 20-year milestones still to come in 2017
  • More than 2.5 million vehicles since launch

The Year 1997 was historic and life-changing for many Mercedes-Benz U.S. International, Inc. (MBUSI) Team Members and it launched the beginning of automotive production in the State of Alabama. On February 14, 1997, MBUSI’s first customer-ready M-Class rolled offline and Team Members celebrated afterwards in a private ceremony. Forty Team Members — dressed in black, with sunglasses, white gloves, bow ties and black top hats – performed a dance routine for the crowd of 850 Team Members to the Temptations’ “Get Ready”. MBUSI Team Members had a ball and this set the stage for many more celebrations to come over the years.

Flash forward to 2016:  Last year, MBUSI built more than 300,000 vehicles (Compared with more than 68,000 in 1998). MBUSI now has an annual economic impact of more than $1.5 billion, and the plant has consistently been the state’s largest exporter. And with the worldwide success of the vehicles produced in Alabama, Daimler AG has invested more than $4.5 billion to date and a $1.3 billion expansion is now underway.

“Looking back on 20 years of production, the Mercedes-Benz plant in Tuscaloosa has been a success story from the beginning”, states Markus Schaefer, Member of the Divisonal Board of Mercedes-Benz Cars, Production and Supply Chain Management. “Tuscaloosa was our first major production facility outside Germany and the nucleus of the automotive industry in Alabama. Meanwhile, the site has become an important part of our global production network contributing to the company’s success as the traditional production location for our SUVs, which are produced here for the world market.”

“As MBUSI celebrates 20 years of production in Alabama, we recognize that this milestone is not only ours, but the entire state’s,” said Jason Hoff, President and CEO of MBUSI. “Twenty years ago, the M-Class was only a vision. We had an idea, a blank sheet of paper and a belief in creating something exciting and successful. Today, the vision has become a reality and it was only possible through the hard work, dedication and unwavering enthusiasm of a team in both Alabama and Germany.”

Since 1997, there have been three generations of the M-Class and with the 2016 Model Year, the vehicle was renamed “GLE” as part of a comprehensive renaming strategy by Mercedes-Benz Cars. MBUSI now builds four models – the GLE, GLE Coupe and GLS luxury sport utility vehicles for the world market and the C-Class for North America.

Other milestone events coming up in 2017

Throughout 2017, MBUSI will continue to recognize milestones that took place in 1997:

  • MAY 1997:  The M-Class was unveiled to the public for the first time at the plant’s Grand Opening Celebration. Six thousand people attended from some 60 countries.
  • JUNE/JULY 1997:  Worldwide M-Class press launch held in North Alabama and the Mercedes-Benz Visitor Center opens.
  • SEPTEMBER 1997:  The M-Class goes on sale in the United States and Canada.
  • OCTOBER 1997: The M-Class wins Motor Trend Magazine’s “Truck of the Year”.

About Mercedes-Benz U.S. International, Inc.

MBUSI – located in Tuscaloosa County, Alabama — is the production location for the GLE-, GLS- and GLE Coupe SUVs, as well as the C-Class sedan for North America. In 2016, the plant produced more than 300,000 vehicles.  MBUSI currently employs 3,600 Team Members. In September 2015, MBUSI announced a $1.3-billion plant expansion and new jobs to pave the way for production of future SUVs. The plant expansion includes a new Body Shop, major enhances to its SUV Assembly shop and logistics and IT systems upgrades to make Plant Tuscaloosa one of the “smartest” automotive facilities in the world.  Plant construction will be completed in summer of 2017 and the facility goes into full operation in 2019.

Daimler at a Glance
Daimler AG is one of the world’s most successful automotive companies. With its divisions Mercedes-Benz Cars, Daimler Trucks, Mercedes-Benz Vans, Daimler Buses and Daimler Financial Services, the Daimler Group is one of the biggest producers of premium cars and the world’s biggest manufacturer of commercial vehicles with a global reach. Daimler Financial Services provides financing, leasing, fleet management, insurance, financial investments, credit cards, and innovative mobility services. The company’s founders, Gottlieb Daimler and Carl Benz, made history with the invention of the automobile in the year 1886. As a pioneer of automotive engineering, Daimler continues to shape the future of mobility today: The Group’s focus is on innovative and green technologies as well as on safe and superior automobiles that appeal  and fascinate. Daimler consequently invests in the development of alternative drive trains with the long-term goal of emission-free driving: from hybrid vehicles to electric vehicles powered by battery or fuel cell. Furthermore, the company follows a consistent path towards accident-free driving and intelligent connectivity all the way to autonomous driving. This is just one example of how Daimler willingly accepts the challenge of meeting its responsibility towards society and the environment. Daimler sells its vehicles and services in nearly all the countries of the world and has production facilities in Europe, North and South America, Asia, and Africa. Its current brand portfolio includes, in addition to the world’s most valuable premium automotive brand, Mercedes-Benz, as well as Mercedes-AMG, Mercedes-Maybach and Mercedes me, the brands smart, EQ, Freightliner, Western Star, BharatBenz, FUSO, Setra and Thomas Built Buses, and Daimler Financial Services’ brands: Mercedes-Benz Bank, Mercedes-Benz Financial Services, Daimler Truck Financial, moovel, car2go and mytaxi.The company is listed on the stock exchanges of Frankfurt and Stuttgart (stock exchange symbol DAI). In 2016, the Group sold around 3 million vehicles and employed a workforce of 282,488 people; revenue totalled €153.3 billion and EBIT amounted to €12.9 billion.

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Source: Mercedes-Benz USA