Mercedes-Benz plans to invest nearly $1.3 billion in a major expansion at its Alabama assembly plant, creating 300 jobs and preparing the factory to launch production of its next-generation sport utility vehicles.
The new investment comes at a time of dramatic growth for Mercedes’ manufacturing hub in Tuscaloosa County. Output at the 3.7 million-square-foot plant is targeted at 300,000 vehicles this year, an increase of 60 percent from the 2013 production level. At the same time, Mercedes has introduced new models to its Alabama production line-up, including the GLE Coupé this year.
Governor Robert Bentley attended a meeting Thursday afternoon of the Tuscaloosa County Industrial Development Authority, where Mercedes officials laid out their plans. “It’s great to be in Tuscaloosa to announce that Mercedes will invest another $1.3 billion and create 300 new jobs in Alabama,” Governor Bentley tweeted.
As part of the latest expansion project, Mercedes will add a body shop where its most technologically advanced SUVs will be assembled, according to the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama. The new jobs will include high-paying engineering positions.
“The significant new investment Mercedes is making to expand its Tuscaloosa County manufacturing facility shows the company’s strong commitment to advancing automotive technology,” said Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce. “Over the past 20 years, Alabama has developed a productive partnership with Mercedes, and the company’s Alabama workforce has proven its capabilities through repeated expansions and model launches.
“This is a ‘Made-in-Alabama’ success story with global connections,” Secretary Canfield added.
ROUNDS OF EXPANSIONS
Mercedes, which produced its first Alabama-made vehicle in 1997, has invested a total of more than $4 billion in its sprawling Tuscaloosa County campus, after repeated expansions. The plant’s workforce now numbers around 3,500.
Besides the new GLE Coupé, the models made there are the C-Class sedan, the flagship M-Class (renamed the GLE-Class) sport utility, and the GL-Class (renamed the GLS-Class) full-size SUV. In 2014, the Mercedes plant produced 232,000 vehicles, pushing its cumulative production total past 2 million.
Mercedes suppliers have also been expanding or establishing new operations in Alabama. In August, parts maker SMP announced plans for a $115 million plant in Tuscaloosa County that will eventually create 650 jobs. Also last month, Kamtek announced a $530 million expansion of its Birmingham manufacturing facility that will add 350 jobs.