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



2nd December, 2007

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

Mercedes-Benz U.S. International (MBUSI) has celebrated the manufacture of its one millionth vehicle. This milestone comes 10 years and nine months after the first M-Class rolled off the production line back in 1997. Today, three vehicles are built at the Tuscaloosa facility in Alabama: the second-generation M-Class, the R-Class Sports Tourer and the GL-Class luxury SUV.

The milestone vehicle, a white ML 350 4MATIC, came off the line on 27th November, 2007 at 7:59 a.m. (Central Standard Time). The vehicle features sports wheels, side steps, reversing camera and a COMAND navigation system.

“Our entire organisation is extremely proud of this accomplishment and the global teamwork that has made it happen,” said Bill Taylor, plant manager of the Mercedes-Benz plant in 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 organisation within the state,” he said.

When the first generation Mercedes-Benz M-Class arrived, this new sport utility vehicle started a trend inspiring other premium manufacturers to build more luxurious car-like SUVs. Launched in 1997 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 almost half being sold in the U.S. The second-generation M-Class reasserted its industry leadership in a highly competitive market that has grown dramatically since the launch of the original Mercedes-Benz SUV.

Year-to-date, Mercedes-Benz has sold 146,900 sport utility vehicles worldwide (an increase of 10 per cent compared to the same month in 2006). The Alabama built vehicles also achieved a new sales record in the U.S. with 59,400 vehicles sold in the period from January to October 2007 (an increase of 11 per cent compared to 2006).

All vehicles assembled in Tuscaloosa, are installed with engines and transmissions from the Mercedes-Benz plants in Stuttgart-Untertuerkheim and Berlin as well as from AMG GmbH in Affalterbach, Germany. This contributes significantly to the utilisation rate of engine production, which Mercedes-Benz continues to operate from Germany.

Since MBUSI began 14 years ago, and after a decade of production, the Tuscaloosa, Alabama plant has seen rapid growth:

1993 - Tuscaloosa, Alabama, is chosen as the production location for the future Mercedes-Benz M-Class.
1997 - The first M-Class customer vehicle “Job 1” rolls off the production line in February. The M-Class also wins “Truck of the Year” from Motor Trend Magazine.
1998 - The M-Class wins North American Truck of the Year Award at the North American Auto Show (Detroit Motor Show). In July, a $40 million expansion is made to the Tuscaloosa Plant, to expand capacity by 20 per cent to 80,000 units.
1999 - The 100,000th M-Class comes off the production line in February.
2000 - DaimlerChrysler AG announces plans to invest $600 million to expand the Tuscaloosa Plant for future products.
2001 - The 250,000th M-Class comes off the production line in January.
2002 - DaimlerChrysler AG announces that the Tuscaloosa Plant will build the R-Class Sports Tourer.
2004 - The 500,000th Alabama-built M-Class comes off the production line and the final M-Class of the first generation follows in a few weeks. The first second-generation M-Class customer vehicle rolls off the production line.
2005 - In May, the $600 million expansion is completed and the new plant becomes operational. The first R-Class customer vehicle “Job 1” rolls off the production line and DCAG announces a third product to be built in Tuscaloosa - the new GL-Class.
2006 - The new GL-Class is unveiled at the Detroit Motor Show. The plant builds the 100,000th second generation M-Class and the first GL-Class customer vehicle “Job 1” rolls off the production line. The GL-Class collects The Motor Trend 2007 Sport/Utility of the Year award and the M-Class earns top safety pick for 2007 from Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
2007 - The diesel GL-Class is unveiled at the Detroit Motor Show and MBUSI celebrates 10 years of production in Alabama. The GL-Class and the M-Class receive best grades from J. D. Power’s Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study published in June. For the third time readers of the German publication Auto Zeitung award the Mercedes-Benz R-Class Sports Tourer as best vehicle in it’s class, with the R-Class collecting the renowned Auto Trophy for 2007.
2008 – From 2008, Mercedes-Benz will start to offer its entire SUV range with the BLUETEC exhaust treatment system, making their diesel engines the cleanest in the world in all vehicle classes. These engines meet even the most stringent emissions limits, ensuring that vehicles equipped with BLUETEC technology are approved for use in all 50 U.S. states.

The Tuscaloosa Success Story

The advent 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 pioneering role significantly contributed to the settlement of an international automotive industry cluster in Alabama.

Today, the Tuscaloosa Plant includes two assembly shops, two paint shops and one body shop covering more than 298,700 square metres. The $1 billion facility manufactured 173,600 vehicles in 2006, which are sold in more than 135 countries around the world. More than 4,000 team members are employed 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 estimated at $6.8 billion.

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