The German automaker, Daimler AG, plans to add $1 billion in new investment and create 600 new jobs at its manufacturing center in Tuscaloosa, Alabama to make electric vehicles and the batteries to run them.
The investment will finance the company’s strategic plans to produce EQ-branded SUV models Mercedes-Benz U.S. International that are expected to the latest technology needed for automated driving, said Daimler AG officials, noting the investment follow a $1.3 billion investment in 2015 for expanding the Tuscaloosa plant.
The battery plant will also be built near the existing passenger-car plant ensuring availability of the very latest technology for future generations of Mercedes-Benz vehicles built in the U.S., the company said in the announcement, which coincided with the ceremonies, marking the 20th anniversary of Mercedes-Benz production in Tuscaloosa.
“We are excited to celebrate 20 years of production in Tuscaloosa by expanding our operations in the region and by bringing our electric initiative to the United States,” said Markus Schaefer, Member of the Divisional Board of Mercedes-Benz Cars, Production and Supply Chain, who was on hand for the announcement in Alabama.
(Mercedes-Benz Concept EQ A puts bigger battery in smaller car. For the story, Click Here.)
“With this $1 billion investment, we are significantly growing our manufacturing footprint here in Alabama, while sending a clear message to our customers across the U.S. and around the world: Mercedes-Benz will continue to be on the cutting-edge of electric vehicle development and production,” said Schaefer.
Shaefer also said with the investment in Alabama, Mercedes-Benz will now have production locations for EVs and batteries in Europe, China and the U.S.
“Our global network is ready for the era of electric vehicles. Thanks to our plant modernization in Tuscaloosa, we will be able to quickly ramp up U.S. production of EQ models, while also being more flexible to our customers’ demands for innovative vehicles that live up to the excellent quality that is synonymous with the Mercedes-Benz brand,” he said.
Shaefer said the expansion of Daimler AG’s industrial footprint in Alabama, most of which is slated for the electric initiative, is expected to create more than 600 additional jobs when it is completed.
In addition to the electric initiative, the logistics activities in the U.S. will be expanded with a new Global Logistics Center and a new after-sales North American hub, exporting car-kits to global assembly plants and spare parts from the U.S. and North America to worldwide markets.
(Click Here for more about the EQ A concept.)
“With the addition of electric SUVs to our future fleet, we will provide discerning drivers with a new, high quality automotive option that will marry performance, luxury, and environmental stewardship,” Markus Schaefer said.
The plant in Tuscaloosa exclusively builds utility vehicles such as the GLE, GLS and GLE Coupe for customers in 70 countries around the world.
“This is an exciting day for MBUSI and our entire team here in Alabama,” said Jason Hoff, president and CEO of Mercedes-Benz U.S. International during the “All Team Member” meeting.
“Looking back on 20 years of production, the Mercedes-Benz plant in Tuscaloosa has been a success story from the beginning. We are now continuing this story with a clear vision for the era of electric mobility. We are proud that Tuscaloosa will be an integral part of our company’s evolution to electric vehicles contributing to the long-term success of Mercedes-Benz Cars.” Hoff said.
By 2022, Mercedes-Benz plans to electrify its entire portfolio of Mercedes, offering customers at least one electrified alternative in all segments from smart to large SUVs.
(To see more about the plans to split Mercedes-Benz into three units, Click Here.)
The company is planning to offer more than 50 electrified vehicle variants. At the same time, Mercedes-Benz will be continuously supporting the development of plug-in hybrids and the introduction of 48-volt-systems. The first EQ series model, EQC, will go into production in 2019 in Bremen.