Mercedes-Benz Launches Production of 2023 Electric SUV in Alabama
The all-electric EQS SUV represents a new era of sustainable manufacturing in the U.S. for the luxury automaker.
The Mercedes-Benz all-electric EQS SUV has begun rolling off the line at the company’s Tuscaloosa, Ala. plant.
The Tuscaloosa facility has been assembling Mercedes-Benz’s large SUVs since 1997 and is slated to be a key manufacturing facility for the EQS SUV as well as the EQE SUV, which will launch later this year. Electric vehicle (EV) production at Tuscaloosa is supported by a new EV battery manufacturing plant in nearby Bibb County, Ala., which began operation in March 2022.
“Our production network is very well positioned for the sustainable and rapid scaling of electric vehicle volumes,” said Jörg Burzer, member of the Board of Management of Mercedes-Benz Group AG, Production and Supply Chain, in a press release. “With the new EQS SUV joining our production portfolio of all-electric Mercedes-EQ models, we reached another important milestone in our strategy to go all electric by the end of the decade—wherever market conditions allow.”
The Tuscaloosa plant uses digital, sustainable, efficient and flexible production methods and follows the blueprint of the company’s zero-carbon Factory 56 in Sindelfingen, Germany. Early investments into flexible production and the implementation of the automaker’s MO360 advanced manufacturing digital production ecosystem means that Mercedes-Benz is already able to produce battery electric vehicles in volume.
The Mercedes-Benz MO360 advanced manufacturing infrastructure integrates information from production software, including the company’s QUALITY LIVE quality management system and the SFM digital shop floor management system. MO360 significantly optimizes production control and provides each employee with individual and needs-based information and work instructions in real time. Cloud solutions provide scalability and enable extensive big data processing. This makes MO360 the central ecosystem of Mercedes-Benz Cars operations for highly digitalized automobile production.
Both the Tuscaloosa plant and the battery plant operate on a carbon-neutral basis, with the battery plant scheduled to run solely on renewable electricity sources by 2024. The new battery factory produces battery systems on a 985-foot-long production line with more than 70 workstations where components are assembled into a complete system in a fully digitized production environment. The battery for the EQS SUV is based on a modular architecture that is also used in the EQS and EQE sedans.
Since the 1990s, Mercedes-Benz has invested a total of more than $7 billion in Alabama, including $1 billion to build the battery plant and logistics centers, and to upgrade the production line at Tuscaloosa to make EVs. Mercedes-Benz U.S. International (MBUSI) employs around 4,500 people and manufactured about 260,000 combustion engine SUVs in 2021. Roughly two-thirds of annual production is exported, making MBUSI one of the largest exporters of automobiles from the U.S.