Mercedes-Benz is reorganizing its SUV production and will expand production capacities in the USA. The US contract manufacturer AM General will join the production network of Mercedes-Benz Cars, producing the R-Class in South Bend, Indiana, in the future.
Production capacities at the Mercedes-Benz Tuscaloosa plant (Mercedes-Benz US International – MBUSI), which will be gradually be released in this process, will then be used for the M-Class, the GL-Class and the new GLE Coupé due in summer.
Within our growth strategy we are expanding our global production network and will additionally use the capacities of a contract manufacturer. We are thus increasing flexibility and continue to improve our competitiveness.—Markus Schäfer, Member of the Divisional Board Mercedes-Benz Cars, Manufacturing and Supply Chain Management
2015 will be the year of the SUV for Mercedes-Benz. Almost the entire SUV portfolio will be renewed: the M-Class and the GL-Class will receive a facelift; in line with the new Mercedes-Benz nomenclature the previous model designations will then be replaced by GLE-Class and GLS-Class, respectively. In addition, the GLE Coupé will hit the market in summer as an entirely new model. Mercedes-Benz expects additional sales momentum in 2015 from this product offensive.
With the introduction of the new GLE Coupé and the ongoing strong demand for SUVs, Plant Tuscaloosa needs all available production capacities for this segment.—Jason Hoff, President and CEO of MBUSI
Production capacity of the Mercedes-Benz Tuscaloosa plant is planned to reach more than 300,000 units this year. Previous R-Class capacity will be used for the other SUV model lines. In addition to the SUV models, the plant has been producing the new C-Class sedan since June 2014 as one of four global locations in a production network with the lead plant in Bremen, Germany, the South African plant in East London, and the Chinese production location Beijing Benz Automotive Co. Ltd. (BBAC).
The Mercedes-Benz R-Class has been offered exclusively in China since 2013. The model series, which has been available in China from the outset as a long version with six or seven seats, continues to be popular with Chinese customers. Contract manufacturing at AM General is planned to start in summer 2015.
The Mercedes-Benz Tuscaloosa plant was founded in 1995 and started production of the M-Class in 1997. The plant added the R-Class in 2005, the GL-Class in 2006, and the new C-Class sedan for the North American market in 2014. In 2014, the plant produced more than 235,000 vehicles. To date, more than 2.1 million vehicles have rolled off the plant’s line for customers around the world.
AM General has more than five decades of manufacturing experience in two separate assembly plants meeting the changing needs of the automotive industry. The company has produced more than 1.5 million vehicles worldwide, supported by its employees at major facilities in Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio, and a strong supplier base that stretches across 43 US states.