TUSCALOOSA, Alabama – Workers at Mercedes-Benz’s sprawling Alabama assembly plant celebrated “Job 1” today, signaling the start of mass production of the all-new GLE Coupé at the $4.5 billion facility.
Mercedes has called 2015 “The Year of the SUV” for the brand, with the launch of the GLE Coupé and a renewal of most of its SUV line-up, including a new look and new name for the pioneering M-Class, its first Alabama-made model.
“For more than 20 years, we have been successfully building sport utility vehicles in Alabama for the world market,” said Jason Hoff, president and CEO of Mercedes-Benz U.S. International in Tuscaloosa.
“We have had three keys to our success here. First, we have an excellent partnership with the State of Alabama. Second, we are integrated in the global production network of Mercedes-Benz. And third, we have a fantastic workforce that continues to put in 100 percent of effort every day,” Hoff added.
Today’s GLE Coupé launch was marked by a ceremony attended by Alabama Governor Robert Bentley and Markus Shaefer, member of the divisional board of management of Mercedes-Benz Cars, Production and Supply Chain Management.
“The production launch of the GLE Coupé is an important milestone in our growth strategy,” Schaefer said. “In 2015 we will renew almost our full SUV portfolio and have therefore built up our capacities in the U.S. Together with the C-Class, we will produce more than 300,000 vehicles in Tuscaloosa this year.”
Mercedes last year began producing the C-Class sedan at the Alabama facility and announced that it planned to increase annual production capacity at the plant to 300,000 vehicles per year. In 2014, production in Tuscaloosa totaled 232,000 vehicles, up from 185,000 in the previous year.
Since 1997, when Mercedes produced the first M-Class at the Alabama factory, more than 2.1 million vehicles have rolled off the plant’s line for customers around the world. Alabama Secretary of Commerce Greg Canfield has said Mercedes’ decision to locate its first U.S. assembly complex in the state laid the foundation for Alabama’s growing auto industry, which last year produced nearly 1 million vehicles.
The automaker showed off the next version of the M-Class – to be called the GLE – at the New York International Auto Show last month.
The GLE Coupé has already made a splash in Hollywood, landing a part in the upcoming “Jurassic World,” a new film in the “Jurassic Park” series.