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HISTORY: Alabama auto production races past 10 million mark

There’s no question 2016 was a banner year for Alabama’s auto industry, in more ways than one.

For one thing, workers at the Alabama facilities of Mercedes-Benz, Honda and Hyundai combined to build more than 1 million vehicles for the second consecutive year and reached a new record high output.

But another major milestone was achieved last year without notice.

Alabama’s cumulative auto production — which started when Mercedes began producing the M-Class SUV in Tuscaloosa County 20 years ago this week – surpassed the 10 million mark.

Today, more than 10.3 million SUVs, minivans, pickups, sedans and compacts have been made in Alabama, and that’s a testament to the industry’s staying power, said Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce.

“We went from zero to 10 million in less than 20 years, and the automakers show no signs of slowing down,” he said. “Mercedes is in the middle of a major body and assembly shop expansion, Honda just redesigned its popular Alabama-made Odyssey minivan, and Hyundai recently added the Santa Fe SUV back to its assembly lines to meet customer demand.”

Alabama Automotive Vehicle Production by Year

With all the activity, there is much optimism about the future of auto manufacturing in Alabama, Secretary Canfield added.

“We’re ready for the next 10 million,” he said.

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