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DaimlerChrysler Celebrates Opening of Expanded Plant in Tuscaloosa, Alabama

Published on 2005-05-05. Author : SpecialChem

Stuttgart, Germany / Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA -- DaimlerChrysler AG, celebrated the official opening of its expanded plant in Tuscaloosa, Alabama (USA), where the Mercedes-Benz M-Class and all-new R-Class are built. The "Team Members" who work at Mercedes-Benz U.S. International, Inc. (MBUSI), community and government officials from Alabama, major suppliers and contractors, DaimlerChrysler executives, along with international and local media, joined the ceremony to celebrate the official opening of the three-million-square-foot plant that represented a $600 million expansion in Tuscaloosa.

Dr. Eckhard Cordes

"The success of the M-Class and our plant in Tuscaloosa shows that our globalization strategy and decision to come to the U.S. back in 1993 was the right decision," said Eckhard Cordes, Member of the Board of Management of DaimlerChrysler AG, responsible for the Mercedes Car Group. "More than 640,000 vehicles were sold around the world. We not only achieved new market opportunities for Mercedes-Benz, but also secured employment at our plants back in Germany." The powertrain for both the M-Class and R-Class come from the DaimlerChrysler-plants in Untertürkheim and Berlin, as well as from AMG GmbH, Affalterbach.

Cordes also highlighted the strong partnership and cooperation that DaimlerChrysler has with the State of Alabama. "Without the support from the State of Alabama, this success story would definitely not have been written," Cordes said. "From the beginning, we have had a great relationship with the State of Alabama, and that continues today. It is a relationship built on a foundation of trust, commitment, and a willingness to do whatever it takes to be successful. And, of course, all this would mean nothing without the highly-motivated and dedicated workforce, which has become the cornerstone of our MBUSI team."

Now, with more than $1 billion invested in the Tuscaloosa plant, DaimlerChrysler AG underscores its even greater commitment to the United States and to MBUSI, strengthening the plant's role within the worldwide Mercedes-Benz production network. The plant expansion will allow for the production of multiple product lines: The second-generation of the Mercedes-Benz M-Class and the all-new R-Class Grand Sports Tourer. The company recently doubled its workforce to 4,000 "Team Members" and production capacity to 160,000 cars per year. The expanded plant now includes two assembly shops, two paint shops and an expanded body shop.

Production of the second-generation M-Class began in December 2004, and the vehicle went on sale in the U.S. in April 2005. Production of the R-Class, which had its world premiere at the New York International Auto Show in March, will begin later this year for sale by the end of 2005.

The Tuscaloosa plant offers highly flexible production technology that fulfils the standards of the Mercedes-Benz Production System (MPS).

Also, from a logistics standpoint, MBUSI uses some of the most efficient processes to assure "just-in-sequence" and "just-in-time" delivery, which also minimizes the amount of inventory needed on-site.

"Tuscaloosa has some of the newest and most innovative processes in the industry, from both a manufacturing and environmental standpoint," said Hans-Heinrich Weingarten, the Member of the Divisional Board of the Mercedes Car Group responsible for Production. "In addition, MBUSI's highly trained and skilled workers have shown that they can build products that meet the high standards of Mercedes-Benz. I have no doubt that the new M-Class and R-Class will match the tremendous success of the first-generation M-Class."

More than 300 Alabama team members were trained at plants in Germany, while likewise, about the same number of Germans are working in Tuscaloosa to support the multiple product launches. This cross-cultural experience assures a smooth transition between vehicle development, which is taking place in Sindelfingen, and production in Tuscaloosa. "Tuscaloosa is a melting pot of experiences and cultures, and its German and American integration is a model for our company and for any global organization," said Weingarten.

"Having been in Tuscaloosa since 1993, when DaimlerChrysler was the only automaker in Alabama, I can say first-hand that our success is due to the strength of our team members and the great support we've received from the state and our local communities," said Bill Taylor, President & CEO of MBUSI. "It's no surprise that, today, Alabama has several automotive manufacturers and hundreds of suppliers. I am sure they, too, found that Alabama has a strong workforce and is a great place to do business."

MBUSI alone is responsible for more than 10,000 direct and indirect jobs in the region, and has an annual economic impact of more than $1.5 billion. In addition, MBUSI has become the state's largest exporter, with more than $1 billion exported each year to countries throughout the world. MBUSI's economic impact is expected to increase when the plant is producing at full capacity.

Source: DaimlerChrysler AG


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