TUSCALOOSA, AL - The only Mercedes-Benz plant in North America celebrated a significant milestone - the production of the plant's 1 millionth M-Class. The milestone vehicle is a fuel-efficient ML 350 BlueTEC diesel, destined for a West Coast Mercedes-Benz dealership.
"Everyone here at MBUSI is extremely proud to have reached this milestone," said Ola Kaellenius, who assumed leadership of the plant in June 2009 as the new president and CEO of MBUSI. "This year has posed some challenges, but our Team Members have worked to maintain our momentum and they've turned those challenges into opportunities. I'm personally excited by the passion and dedication I've seen in our team Members as they've worked to help us achieve our goal of delivering superior products to our customers."
Initially, the M-Class was the only vehicle produced at the Alabama plant. More than 570,000 vehicles were built during the original M-Class' eight-year lifecycle - from 1997 to 2004. That success led to a $600-million plant expansion. Today, three vehicles are built at the Tuscaloosa facility - the second-generation M-Class, the R-Class SUV Tourer, and the GL-Class luxury SUV. In total, MBUSI has built more than 1.2 million vehicles and MBUSI is the sole production location for these three products.
In October 2006, Mercedes-Benz was the first manufacturer to begin a BlueTEC offensive within the U.S. passenger vehicle segment to coincide with the introduction of ultra low-sulfur diesel fuel. The E320 BlueTEC was a huge success right from the beginning and was voted "2007 World Green Car of the Year."
Mercedes-Benz is now pushing forward with this initiative with the R, ML and GL 350 BlueTEC - the world's first three diesel SUVs that not only meet the particularly demanding targets specified in the U.S. BIN5 (50-state) standards, but which also have the potential to fulfill the stringent EU6 standards due in the future, thus also significantly exceeding all current emission standards for diesel passenger cars worldwide. In the U.S., around 20 percent of all customers order their Mercedes-Benz SUVs as a BlueTEC diesel version.
In addition to the innovative clean BlueTEC diesel technology, MBUSI will begin building the new ML 450 HYBRID, which goes on sale Fall of 2009. MBUSI currently has more than 3,000 Team Members who are building the M-, R- and GL-class SUVs for all global markets.