Celebration of 20th Anniversary of Decision to Build U. S. Plant
- Decision in 1993 marked the first step in expansion of Mercedes-Benz’ global production network
- First-generation M-Class was first product; Plant’s production portfolio to be expanded to five models by 2015
- Tuscaloosa plant represents overall investments of more than $4 billion
- Andreas Renschler: “Our decision for Tuscaloosa triggered one of the most important developments in our recent corporate history. As the first full-production plant outside of Germany it represents a proud story of success for Mercedes-Benz.”
Tuscaloosa / Alabama, USA – Mercedes-Benz celebrates the 20th anniversary of the decision to build its first production plant outside of Germany in Tuscaloosa. On this occasion, Jason Hoff, President and CEO of the Mercedes-Benz Tuscaloosa plant (Mercedes-Benz U.S. International – MBUSI) took much pleasure in welcoming a very special colleague: Andreas Renschler, member of the Daimler board of management responsible for Manufacturing and Procurement Mercedes-Benz Cars & Mercedes-Benz Vans. He was instrumental in the decision and all subsequent efforts which led to the foundation of MBUSI and the start of manufacturing operations at the Mercedes-Benz Tuscaloosa plant in 1997. Renschler had been appointed leader of the Mercedes-Benz ‘Multi-Purpose Vehicle’ (the later M-Class) project in 1993 and later became MBUSI’s first President and CEO until 1999.
Commemorating the 1993 decision for Tuscaloosa, Andreas Renschler said: “Back then, our decision for Tuscaloosa triggered one of the most important developments in our recent corporate history. As the first full-production plant outside of Germany, it represents a proud story of success for Mercedes-Benz.”
Renschler continued: “The part of my career which I spent here in Tuscaloosa has been one of my greatest professional as well as personal experiences, and I am proud to say it still feels a lot like coming home every time I am here. And what has made me even more proud is the incredible development this plant has taken over the years. One thing has not changed over the years, however: MBUSI is a great team with great passion for great products.”
Referring to next years’ launch of the new-generation C-Class and another all-new Mercedes-Benz SUV in 2015, Renschler added: “I am counting on this team to continue this path of success – we have two important products in the pipeline within the next two years, which will again be drivers for the success of Mercedes-Benz.”
Jason Hoff commented: “Over the years, we’ve worked hand-in-hand with colleagues in Germany to accomplish our goals. Today, MBUSI Team Members are now supporting other plants with training and support and our plant’s contributions to Mercedes-Benz are recognized by our colleagues around the world. The positive way our plant is viewed is a direct result of our Team Members. Their dedication and commitment to MBUSI has made us successful during our 20 years of operations, and I appreciate their focus on doing what we do best — building great vehicles and working together as a Team.”
MBUSI: past, present and future
Early 1993, the product decision was made for what was initially labelled as a “multi-purpose vehicle” to conquer new customers and sales regions for the brand. The business plan for that vehicle – the later M-Class – foresaw a production location in North America, as the U.S. was clearly targeted as the key market for the vehicle. A multitude of potential locations were thoroughly investigated, given the fact that the magnitude of the project and the investment volume involved had been unprecedented within the company to this time. When Alabama and Tuscaloosa finally turned out to offer the most comprehensive and convincing set of key factors, the stage was set for the project team recruited from some of the most capable and ambitious experts from various functions throughout the company to take over.
Only four years later, with initial capital investments of more than $300 million, the plant was finally opened in May 1997 and started production of the first-generation M-Class. As the first automotive manufacturing location in the State of Alabama, it also served as the trigger for automotive suppliers and supporting businesses to come to the state and region, hence founding Alabama’s strong position as one of today’s key automotive business clusters in the United States. In line with the market success of the M-Class, the following years saw rapid expansion of the plant with further significant investments of $600 Million since 2001, which served to prepare the start of production of two further all-new SUV models, the R-Class in 2005 and the GL-Class in 2006.
In 2009, the decision was made to produce the next-generation C-Class for the North American market as the plant’s fourth product beginning in 2014. Not even another two years later, the November 2011 announcement of a fifth product to come to Tuscaloosa as of 2015 marked the most recent proof of the company’s confidence in Tuscaloosa as Mercedes-Benz’ North American production hub. Further investments into the project connected with these two production decisions amount to $2.4 billion between 2010 and 2015 and the creation of some additional 1,400 jobs directly at MBUSI alone. As of today, MBUSI has built more than 1.8 million world-class Mercedes-Benz vehicles – with the SUVs built at the Tuscaloosa plant representing around 15 % of Mercedes-Benz Passenger Cars sales in 2012.
MBUSI has also proven to be a true story of success for the region and the State of Alabama: The Company was responsible for contributing between $1.5 and $2 billion into Alabama’s economy in 2012 in terms of payroll, taxes and investment. MBUSI now exports around 60% of its vehicles, making it the state’s largest exporter, accounting for more than $1 billion annually in worldwide exports. In addition, approximately 60 % of vehicle content sourced in the NAFTA region comes from Alabama suppliers, and estimates are that each MBUSI employee corresponds with approximately 7 external positions.