Mercedes-Benz will invest $1.3 billion to expand SUV production in the US and turn the Mercedes-Benz plant Tuscaloosa into a high-tech location. The Mercedes-Benz plant Tuscaloosa will also assemble the next SUV generations including the hybrid versions.
The plant expansion includes a new Body Shop, major enhancements to the SUV Assembly Shop as well as upgraded logistics and IT systems. Advanced 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.
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.
Mercedes-Benz 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 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 US 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.