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Next Generation Mercedes-Benz M-Class "Job One" Rolls off Production Line in Tuscaloosa
- Worldwide public debut at Detroit Motor Show in January 2005
- $600 million plant expansion nearly completed
- Doubling workforce and capacity of Tuscaloosa plant
The first customer-ready, next-generation M-Class sport utility vehicle has rolled off the line at Mercedes-Benz U.S. International, Inc. (MBUSI), in Tuscaloosa, Alabama (USA). The vehicle’s worldwide public debut will take place at The North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit in January 2005.
Since 2001, DaimlerChrysler AG has invested $600 million to expand the plant and double production capacity from 80,000 to 160,000 vehicles per year. The plant expansion is nearly complete. The Tuscaloosa plant was the first Mercedes-Benz passenger vehicle factory outside of Germany. Currently MBUSI employs approximately 3,400 people, with the workforce growing to approximately 4,000 by 2006. Both the M-Class and the all-new Mercedes-Benz R-Class Grand Sports Tourer will be produced at the Tuscaloosa plant beginning in 2005.
The new M-Class will follow an extremely successful predecessor. More than 570,000 vehicles of the first generation M-Class were produced at MBUSI in Tuscaloosa since start of production back in 1997.
The demand for the M-Class was so great that the plant had to be expanded within its first year of production. In addition to the initial investment of $300 million, the company invested another $100 million to increase capacity from the original 60,000 planned to more than 80,000 vehicles a year. Together with the current $600 million investment the total capital investment in Tuscaloosa is now more than $1 billion. In 2002, the Tuscaloosa plant built a record-breaking figure of more than 88,000 M-Class vehicles.
During the peak years of the product lifecycle from 1999 to 2002 an additional 77,100 M-Class vehicles were produced at Magna Steyr, a supplemental plant in Graz, Austria, to help meet demand in Europe. Altogether close to 650,000 M-Class vehicles were produced during the vehicle’s lifecycle. The M-Class is sold in 135 countries worldwide.
In 2004, 73,500 M-Class vehicles were produced at MBUSI inTuscaloosa. The final first generation M-Class sport utility vehicle rolled off the line on December 9, 2004. Along with the first M-Class that was produced back in February 1997, this final vehicle will remain in the company’s museum at the Tuscaloosa plant site.