The Auto Channel
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
The Largest Independent Automotive Research Resource
Official Website of the New Car Buyer

One Millionth Alabama-Built Mercedes-Benz Vehicle Rolls Off the Production Line

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

-- Production Anniversary marks success story of Mercedes-Benz production in the U.S.

-- Milestone vehicle, a M-Class 350 4MATIC, to be donated to an Alabama- based charity

TUSCALOOSA, Ala., Nov. 27 -- Mercedes-Benz U.S. International (MBUSI) has manufactured its one millionth vehicle - 10 years and nine months after the first M-Class rolled off the production line back in 1997 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama (USA). Today, three vehicles are built at the facility - the second-generation M-Class, the R-Class Sports Tourer and the GL-Class luxury SUV.

The milestone vehicle -- a white M-Class 350 -- came off the line on November 27 at 7:59 a.m. (Central Standard Time). The vehicle features sporty wheels, running boards, rear view camera and navigation system. "Our entire organization is extremely proud of this accomplishment and the global teamwork that has made it happen," said Bill Taylor, plant manager of plant Tuscaloosa since 1998. "Alabama has provided us with an excellent workforce and this state has been committed to the success of our business. Because of that commitment to our plant, we plan to donate this vehicle to a non-profit within the state." A final decision on the beneficiary of the vehicle will be made in the coming weeks.

When the 1998 Mercedes-Benz M-Class first arrived, the new sport utility vehicle started a trend that inspired the entire auto industry to shift toward more luxurious car-like SUVs. Launched as the only sport utility in its class with four-wheel independent suspension, the original M-Class was one of the first to be designed from the ground up, rather than being based on an existing truck platform.

During the eight-year life cycle of the first-generation vehicle, more than 570,000 M-Class SUVs were produced in Tuscaloosa with about half of them sold in the U.S. The second-generation M-Class reasserted its industry leadership in a highly competitive market that had grown dramatically since the launch of the original Mercedes-Benz SUV.

Year-to-date, Mercedes-Benz has sold 146,900 of its sport utility vehicles worldwide (+10% compared to the same month in 2006). The Alabama built vehicles achieved a new sales record in the U.S. as from January - October 2007 59,400 vehicles were sold (+11% compared to 2006).

The Plant Tuscaloosa Success Story

The arrival of the Tuscaloosa plant in 1993 and the production of the first M-Class in 1997 marked the first Mercedes-Benz passenger vehicle plant outside of Germany. MBUSI's pioneer role then significantly contributed to the first-time settlement of an international automotive industry cluster in Alabama.

Today, the plant Tuscaloosa grounds include two assembly shops, two paint shops and one body shop - on more than 298,700 square meters in size. The plant in 2006 built 173,600 vehicles in the $1-billion facility, and they are sold in more than 135 countries around the world. More than 4,000 team members work at the plant, a huge increase over the 1,500 that was originally planned. Based on a recent study conducted for the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama (EDPA), the total economic and fiscal impacts of MBUSI and its suppliers on Alabama's economy are $6.8 billion.