Mercedes-Benz to set up EV production in US, battery plant; $1B investment in Alabama
21 September 2017
Mercedes-Benz will set up electric vehicle production in the United States. The company plans to produce EQ-branded SUV models at MBUSI (Mercedes-Benz US International), its Tuscaloosa, Alabama facility. At the time being launched, the EQ models will feature the latest status of automated driving—always under the premise of safety and in compliance with the statutory regulations.
In addition, a battery plant will also be built near the existing passenger-car plant ensuring availability of advanced technology for future generations of Mercedes-Benz vehicles built in the US. In total, Mercedes-Benz plans to invest $1 billion in the expansion of its industrial footprint in the region, most of which is slated for the electric initiative.
Once completed,these investments will create more than 600 additional jobs. Final details of the plans are still being worked on in partnership with the State of Alabama.
With this one-billion dollar investment, we are significantly growing our manufacturing footprint here in Alabama, while sending a clear message to our customers across the US and around the world: Mercedes-Benz will continue to be on the cutting-edge of electric vehicle development and production.
With production locations for EVs and batteries in Europe, China and, now, the US, 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 US 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.—Markus Schäfer, Member of the Divisional Board of Mercedes-Benz Cars, Production and Supply Chain
In addition to the electric initiative, the logistics activities in the US 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 US and North America to worldwide markets.
The plant in Tuscaloosa exclusively provides worldwide customers with the SUV models GLE, GLS and GLE Coupé. With the upcoming production of the next SUV generation, the plant will enhance its proven production portfolio with modern plug-in hybrids, responding flexibly and efficiently to market demand. With the additional integration of electric vehicles, the plant is shaping the future of electric mobility worldwide. The announcement was part of the 20-year celebration at MBUSI. Dignitaries attending the event included Alabama Governor Kay Ellen Ivey as well as other local and state officials.
Tuscaloosa is home to Mercedes-Benz’s SUV production for the world market, having started production of the former M-Class (today the GLE) in 1997. As the first automotive manufacturing location in the State of Alabama, the plant also served as the catalyst for additional OEMs, automotive suppliers and supporting businesses to come to the area, creating thousands of jobs in the region and leading to Alabama’s position as one of the key automotive business clusters in the United States.
Mercedes-Benz exports more than 70% of its SUVs to markets around the globe. With an earlier investment of $1.3 billion announced in 2015, the plant is currently being expanded to prepare for the production of the next SUV generation including plug-in hybrid models. The plant expansion comprises a new Body Shop, major enhancements to the SUV Assembly Shop as well as upgraded logistics and IT systems.
Mercedes-Benz will start producing SUV models of the EQ brand in Tuscaloosa at the beginning of the next decade. EQ models will be integrated into the series production at the plant. This is possible because of the early investments in flexibility and technical equipment at the plant that offer Industry 4.0 technologies.
By 2022, the company will electrify the entire portfolio of Mercedes, offering customers at least one electrified alternative in all segments from smart to large SUVs. 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, Germany. Technology and product brand EQ is an integral part of CASE, which stands for the intelligent combination of the strategic pillars of connectivity (Connected), autonomous driving (Autonomous), flexible use (Shared & Services) and electric drive systems (Electric).
Battery plant. The battery factory near plant Tuscaloosa will be part of the global battery production network of Mercedes-Benz Cars for local demand and export. In total, Daimler will invest $1.18 billion (more than one billion Euros) in the battery production network, which will also include production facilities in Germany and China.
As in vehicle production, the battery production network will react flexibly and efficiently to market demand. This strategy ensures the ongoing availability of modern battery technology through local production hubs in Europe, China and the US and puts Mercedes-Benz in a competitive position for its electric initiative.
Construction work for the new one million square-foot facility in Tuscaloosa is expected to begin in 2018, with operations planned to start at the beginning of the next decade.
Logistics activities. Expanding its industrial footprint, Mercedes-Benz is also building a new Global Logistics Center and a new after-sales North American hub in Bibb County, five miles from the plant in Tuscaloosa.
The Global Logistics Center will support worldwide logistics operations connected with products “Made in Tuscaloosa” and will supply oversea assembly plants with car-kits, where Mercedes-Benz produces vehicles for local markets. Operations including brand new IT systems to support lean logistics processes in the new warehouse are scheduled to begin in 2019.
Additionally, Mercedes-Benz is consolidating the three existing after-sales warehouses at a new location. The new after-sales North American hub will be co-located with the new Global Logistics Center providing markets abroad with spare parts. This allows the company to meet rising market demands amid the growing variety of models. The new hub is scheduled to start its operations at the end of 2020.
Another car maker wising up; meanwhile, the U.S. makers are crying to Trump and the Republicans about increased EPA mileage standards and trying to extend ICEVs as long as possible. And, The Chinese, like the rest of us, are watching the U.S. car makers and wondering when they will get serious about EVs. Waiting just awards Tesla with an ever increasing market share.
Posted by: Lad | 21 September 2017 at 02:12 PM
Q. I saw ICEVs driving through high water during hurricane Harvey. Would BEVs be able to perform under those conditions?
Posted by: Larz Larzen | 21 September 2017 at 03:06 PM
Larz: driving any vehicle not specially modified for high water is stupid, even if you don't kill immediately car you can damage it anyway especially if it's salty water. There are videos of Teslas in water, you can google it...
Posted by: As Aha | 21 September 2017 at 04:39 PM
The answer to your question Larz is YES. In fact it should be possible to make an EV that will operate completely submerged where that same ICE doesn't work.
It isn't that much more difficult than manufacturing an electric phone that works under water.
Conformal coating and Mil Std connectors do wonders. 20 years ago we made solid state drives that worked underwater for the NSA.
Posted by: Gasbag | 21 September 2017 at 06:11 PM
Mercedes-VW-BMW and many other major ICEVs manufacturers will mass produce partially and/or fully electrified vehicles by 2020/2022 or so.
Many vehicle manufacturers will also mass produce advanced, higher performance, lower cost batteries for their electrified vehicles. Others will get batteries from international battery makers such as LG, Samsung, BYD, Sanyo etc.
Posted by: HarveyD | 21 September 2017 at 06:58 PM