Daimler to invest $350 million in Alabama plant to build a new Mercedes-Benz model

Article by Christian Andrei, on October 21, 2011

A $350 million investment from Daimler AG will be used for production of a fifth Mercedes-Benz model to begin at the Vance, Ala. plant in 2015. The plant will have 400 new workers. Not much is known about this additional model. In early 2011, company insiders told Automotive News Europe that the fifth model is a coupe-like version of the M-class SUV that will probably be named the MLC. This M-class coupe is intended to rival the BMW X6 produced in Spartanburg, S.C.

In a statement, Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche said that the new Alabama model is one of 10 added vehicles that Mercedes-Benz will be releasing throughout a period of four years. Building this new vehicle is part of an investment of over $2 billion that Daimler gave the green light earlier this year.

Part of this investment will be used to build the Mercedes C class compact car at the Alabama plant starting in 2014. The Mercedes M-class and GL-class SUVs and the R-class crossover are presently being produced at this plant. There are about 2,800 workers in this plant.

Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Daimler Board of Management and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars: “This new model from the Tuscaloosa plant is an important element of our growth strategy. It is one of the ten additional models which we will introduce within the next four years alone across all segments.” Referring to the Tuscaloosa plant’s role within the global production network of Mercedes-Benz Cars, Zetsche added: “At the same time, we are systematically broadening our manufacturing footprint in the NAFTA region.”

Loaded with innovative automotive technology, the third generation of the Mercedes-Benz M-Class is setting new SUV benchmarks in terms of safety, energy efficiency and ride comfort, as well as driving dynamics. For the latest iteration of the M-Class, the interior has been completely revised, now offering outstanding ergonomics. Occupant safety has been a priority for the Mercedes M-Class, and the latest generation just improves on that to a whole new level.

In fact, the new Mercedes-Benz M-Class embodies the Mercedes-Benz’s Real Life Safety holistic safety concept that is based on what would happen during a real vehicular accident. As complemented by its excellent front and rear deformation zones, the M-Class features a high-strength passenger cell that serves as the core and foundation of the car’s occupant protection systems.

In addition, the M-Class is provided with an array of assistance systems derived from the S-Class and E-Class, thereby enhancing its active safety and driver-fitness safety. In the area of energy efficiency, the third-generation M-Class is much better than its predecessor. In fact, the entire M-Class range consumes 25-percent less fuel than the models before them.

This marks the first time that Mercedes was able to improve the fuel efficiency of an SUV by a large gap during a model change. The excellent efficiency numbers of the new M-Class are also a result of employing measures like ultramodern engines, a Cd value of 0.32 and extensive BlueEFFICIENCY measures. In addition, the M-class is laden with new development tools like the "energy-transparent vehicle."

Providing a good example of this efficiency is the ML 250 BlueTEC 4MATIC model, which is around 28 percent more fuel efficient than its predecessor. In terms of figures, the ML 250 BlueTEC 4MATIC consumes only 6.0 l per 100 km on the NEDC driving cycle and travel up to 1,500 kilometers on a single tank of fuel while emitting just 158 grams of carbon dioxide per km.

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