View original article on Made in Alabama.
WOODSTOCK, Alabama — Mercedes-Benz today officially opened a new battery plant on the automaker’s Bibb County campus, a few months before the start of production of all-electric Mercedes-EQ vehicles at its Alabama manufacturing center.
Mercedes will produce the EQS SUV and EQE SUV in its plant in Alabama, as part of a global push to produce eight all-electric vehicles at seven locations on three continents.
The state-of-the-art battery factory near the Bibb County community of Woodstock will provide high-performance lithium-ion batteries for the new electric sport utilities, which will be built at Mercedes’ assembly plant just miles away in Tuscaloosa County.
“The opening of our new battery plant in Alabama is a major milestone on our way to going all-electric,” said Ola Källenius, chairman of the Board of Management of Mercedes-Benz Group AG. “With our comprehensive approach including a local cell sourcing and recycling strategy, we underline the importance of the U.S., where Mercedes-Benz has been successful for decades.
“We’re proud to create new, future-proof jobs to build all-electric SUVs ‘Made in the USA’ at a plant that is such an established part of our production family since 25 years,” he added.
Källenius and other top Mercedes officials were at the Bibb County campus this morning for a ceremony to mark the battery factory’s opening. Also taking part in the ceremony were Governor Kay Ivey and other high-ranking regional and international guests.
“With the production launch of the groundbreaking M-Class 25 years ago, Mercedes-Benz helped put our state on the cutting-edge of automotive manufacturing,” Governor Ivey said. “Today, with the opening of this new battery plant, Alabama is helping Mercedes accelerate its production of industry-leading electric vehicles.
“We’re proud to call Mercedes a partner, and we’re excited about the future that we are building together in Alabama,” she added.
ALABAMA GROWTH PLANS
Mercedes said the new battery factory underscores the importance of the United States within its global production network and the status of Alabama as an export hub for luxury SUVs in the electric era. Read the Mercedes announcement.
“Our team here in Tuscaloosa plays a major role in the global success of Mercedes-Benz. We are proud that not only the new all-electric EQS SUV and EQE SUV are being built here in Alabama for markets worldwide, but also their high-performance batteries,” said Michael Göbel, head of Production North America and president and CEO of Mercedes-Benz U.S. International, as the Alabama operation is known.
Today, Mercedes-Benz U.S. International employs around 4,500 people and supports an estimated additional 11,000 jobs with suppliers and service providers in the region.
Around 4 million vehicles have left the Tuscaloosa County plant since 1997, with around 260,000 SUVs rolling off the production line in 2021 alone. Roughly two-thirds of annual production is exported, making the Alabama operation one of the largest exporters of automobiles in the U.S.
Mercedes has invested more than $7 billion in Alabama, including $1 billion to open the battery plant and logistics centers at the Bibb County campus as well as an upgrade to the Tuscaloosa County production line to make EVs. At the new facility, batteries will be assembled on a production line almost 1,000 feet long, with 70 work stations.
Jörg Burzer, member of the Board of Management of Mercedes-Benz Group AG, responsible for Production and Supply Chain Management, said the Alabama battery plant will be a “a crucial driver of our electric vehicle roll-out plan.”
“Team USA will play a major role in the continued success of Mercedes-Benz, and we are proud that our new electric SUVs will also be built here in Alabama for global markets,” Burzer added.
Mercedes said up to 600 jobs will be created at the rural Bibb County site, located around 30 miles from Birmingham. Construction of the battery plant began in 2018.
“Mercedes-Benz’s decision to build a battery factory and launch electric vehicle production in Alabama will position the state as a leader in a new automotive technology that is poised to dramatically change the direction of the industry,” said Greg Canfield, Secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce.
The automaker currently builds four vehicles at its Alabama plant: the GLE and GLS sport utilizes, the GLE coupé, and the GLS Maybach luxury SUV.