TUSCALOOSA, Alabama — Mercedes-Benz’s newest Alabama-made vehicle, the GLE Coupé, will race through the jungles of “Jurassic World,” the highly anticipated next installment of the blockbuster dinosaur movie series that previously featured the automaker’s first Alabama-made automobile.
The GLE Coupé, which will enter mass production at the company’s Tuscaloosa County plant this year, is among several Mercedes vehicles appearing in “Jurassic World,” a Universal Pictures film that debuts June 12. Mercedes has promoted its connection to the movie on its social media channels and displayed action clips of the GLE Coupé in the film during January’s North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
“We are delighted to have been able to support this epic action-adventure with our vehicles,” said Dr. Jens Thiemer, head of marketing communications for Mercedes-Benz Cars. “Our wide range of SUVs in particular fit perfectly with ‘Jurassic World’s’ requirements, with the focus on our new trendsetter, the GLE Coupé.”
The GLE 450 AMG Coupé that appears in the movie is actually a hand-made prototype that was shielded from spy photographers by intensive security measures during shooting in locations such as NASA property in New Orleans and the Hawaiian islands of Oahu and Kaua’i. Filming took place around 18 months before the vehicle’s scheduled market launch in mid-2015.
One of the publicity shots for “Jurassic World” shows actors Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard standing near a GLE Coupé in a jungle setting. Another shows director Colin Trevorrow and producer Frank Marshall with the vehicle.
M-CLASS VS. DINOS
“Jurassic World” renews a partnership between Universal and Mercedes that dates back to 1997, when audiences got their first glimpse of the automaker’s groundbreaking M-Class sport utility vehicle in “The Lost World: Jurassic Park.” The version of the M-Class prototype that appeared in the movie bristled with protective gear against the dinosaur threat.
Introduced later that year, the M-Class was a hit with buyers and made waves in the industry, winning numerous awards, including Motor Trend’s “Truck of the Year.” The SUV has been in production at the company’s sprawling Alabama manufacturing complex ever since and has been shipped around the world.
“Unveiling the new GLE Coupé in ‘Jurassic World’ was a natural fit as we continue our relationship with Mercedes,” Marshall, the film’s producer, said. “Audiences will find that at the vehicles featured in the film lend themselves perfectly as the transportation of choice in the fully functional international theme park we have created at Jurassic World.”
MERCEDES IN ALABAMA
Back in 1993, Mercedes picked Alabama over three dozen other states for the site of its first U.S. assembly plant, creating the foundation for the state’s growing auto industry and transforming its economy.
The automaker launched production of the M-Class in Alabama four years later, with an annual output of around 65,000 vehicles. The automaker has now invested more than $4 billion in the 3.7 million-square-foot Tuscaloosa County manufacturing facility, where M-Class, GL-Class, C-Class and R-Class vehicles have been produced.
Late last year, Mercedes announced that it was expanding the Alabama plant’s production capacity to 300,000 vehicles a year from the 185,000 assembled in 2013. Output last year was 232,000 vehicles, a record for the facility.
The automaker is in the midst of expanding its Alabama workforce by 200 full-time team members from the current 3,500 to accommodate the launches of C-Class and GLE Coupé production and expanding volume.