Mercedes-Benz U.S. International, Inc. (MBUSI) today celebrated production of the first customer-ready all-new GLE Coupé. “The production launch of the GLE Coupé is an important milestone in our growth strategy. 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,” said Markus Schäfer, Member of the Divisional Board of Management of Mercedes-Benz Cars, Production and Supply Chain Management, at the ceremony held to celebrate the production launch of the new model in the Mercedes-Benz plant Tuscaloosa (Mercedes-Benz U.S. International – MBUSI). The event was attended by numerous guests, including Alabama Governor Robert Bentley.
Mercedes-Benz has dubbed 2015 as the year of the SUV for the brand, with the majority of its SUV portfolio being renewed, including the model update of the GLE (former M-Class). The GLE Coupé is a completely new series of Mercedes-Benz. It combines typical attributes of a coupé with the versatility and robust nature of a SUV. Mercedes‑Benz thus expects additional sales momentum in this year. In 2014, Mercedes-Benz Cars as a whole set new records with over 1.75 million vehicles produced and more than 1.74 million sold.
In March 2015, Mercedes-Benz increased its U.S. sales by 9.2 percent to 29,921 passenger cars and set a new sales record on monthly basis. Sales of C-Class increased by almost 35 percent to 7,635 units. In the first quarter, U.S. sales grew by 7.6 percent to 78,156 passenger cars. Worldwide sales of Mercedes-Benz in the first three months of 2015 increased around 14.8 percent to 429,602 units, making it the first quarter with the strongest sales in the history of Mercedes-Benz. The SUV models enjoy great popularity: Since the beginning of the year, sales grew by 31.9 percent to 107,321 vehicles.
“For more than 20 years, we have been successfully building sport utility vehicles in Alabama for the world market. 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 % of effort every day,” says Jason Hoff, President and CEO of Mercedes-Benz U.S. International, Inc.
To date, Mercedes-Benz has made a $4.5 billion capital investment in the Tuscaloosa operations. Besides the models GLE and GL, Plant Tuscaloosa has built the C-Class sedan since 2014. Production of R-Class vehicles will be moved to the U.S. contract manufacturer AM-General in Mishawaka, Indiana, which will gradually free production capacities to be used for the SUV series. In 2014, MBUSI produced more than 232,000 vehicles.
“As part of our growth strategy, we are expanding our global production network and use additional capacities of our contract manufacturers as well. So we are increasing flexibility and efficiency of our production organization. Our global production standards guarantee the world-renowned high quality of our Mercedes‑Benz vehicles, independent of their production site,” said Markus Schäfer.