Production of 2016 Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe starts at Alabama plant

Article by Christian Andrei, on April 10, 2015

Mercedes-Benz U.S. International is celebrating a major growth milestone -- the launch of the production of the first customer-ready all-new GLE Coupe. At the ceremony for the launch of the new model in the Mercedes-Benz plant in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Markus Schäfer told guests that this year, the company will renew nearly all of its SUV lineup and has boosted capacities in the U.S.

Schäfer, a Member of the Divisional Board of Management of Mercedes-Benz Cars, Production and Supply Chain Management, said that the Tuscaloosa plant will roll out over 300,000 units, along with the C-Class, this year. One of the guests at this event was Alabama Governor Robert Bentley.

The automaker considers 2015 to be its year of the SUV as majority of its portfolio are getting renewed. The GLE (former M-Class) is also getting a model update. The GLE Coupe – a completely new series of the brand – merges the attributes of a coupe with the SUV’s versatility and robustness.

It is with these projects in mind that Mercedes‑Benz believes that it will have more sales momentum 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 the U.S., Mercedes-Benz sold 29,921 passenger cars, marking a 9.2% increase in March 2015 and setting a new sales monthly record. Meanwhile, sales of C-Class climbed by nearly 35% to 7,635 units. U.S. sales in the first quarter increased by 7.6% to 78,156 passenger cars while global sales grew by 14.8% to 429,602 units.

This is highly significant as it is the first quarter with the strongest sales in Mercedes-Benz history. The brand’s SUV model is very popular. Since the start of 2015, it sold 107,321 vehicles – a 31.9% increase. For its Tuscaloosa operations, Mercedes-Benz has invested $4.5 billion. Since 2014, Plant Tuscaloosa has been producing the C-Class sedan, as well as the GLE and GL.

The automaker will shift production of R-Class vehicles to the U.S. contract manufacturer AM-General in Mishawaka, Indiana. This move will eventually free production capacities to be used for the SUV series.

Last year, MBUSI rolled out over 232,000 vehicles. Schäfer also said that to grow, Mercedes is expanding its production network globally and it will also utilize added capacities of its contract manufacturers.

He emphasized that the company’s production organization will be even more efficient and flexible. He also gave assurances that due to the brand’s global production standards, high quality of the vehicles will be guaranteed regardless of where they’re produced. [source: Daimler]

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