Mercedes-Benz to kick up its use of lightweight tech in new generation of crossovers

Mercedes-Benz and lightweight are two things that don’t tend to go well together since Mercedes-Benzes have a reputation of being Panzertanks on wheels, contributing to their vault-like feel and impeccable build quality. They’re also laden with technology driven by heavy computers and have footprints that are equivalent to the former Berlin wall.

But this obviously couldn’t last for long given the auto industry’s push for lighter vehicles to meet regulations with fuel economy. As a result, Mercedes confirmed to be introducing new lightweight technologies with their next-generation of crossover SUVs.

Part of this development is bolstered by a complete overhaul of Merc’s assembly plant in Alabama to accommodate the new manufacturing processes. The Tuscaloosa plant was recently given a hefty $1.3 billion boost in funding for this makeover.

Though obviously, being future products, Mercedes-Benz was coy on details and declined to share what specifically will happen to the next-generation of GLC, GLE and GLS crossovers. But they did say 300 new jobs will open up at the factory!

For the press release, scroll down below.

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Mercedes-Benz Tuscaloosa Plant: Mercedes-Benz invests $1.3 Billion in the expansion of its SUV production

  • MBUSI (Mercedes-Benz U.S. International, Inc.) to produce future SUV generations including hybrid versions
  • SUV production to be expanded – 300 new jobs
  • New Body Shop, major enhancements to SUV Assembly Shop and upgraded logistics and IT systems
  • Implementation of state-of-the-art technologies and end-to-end digitization of production processes in line with the smart factory approach
  • Markus Schäfer, Member of the Divisional Board Mercedes-Benz Cars, Manufacturing and Supply Chain Management: “In the next years we invest $1.3 billion in the expansion of our SUV production and turn the Mercedes-Benz plant Tuscaloosa into a high-tech location. In this way we can produce the next SUV generations even more flexibly, efficiently and in proven top quality.”
  • Jason Hoff, President and CEO of MBUSI: “With this expansion and modernization of our plant, we will create 300 new jobs and continue the success story of Mercedes-Benz in Tuscaloosa.”

Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA / Stuttgart, Germany – Mercedes-Benz expands the SUV production in the US and will create 300 new jobs. “In the next years we invest $1.3 billion into the expansion of our SUV production and turn the Mercedes-Benz plant Tuscaloosa into a high-tech location,” says Markus Schäfer, Member of the Divisional Board Mercedes-Benz Cars, Manufacturing and Supply Chain Management. “In this way we can produce the next SUV generations even more flexibly, efficiently and in proven top quality.”

The Mercedes-Benz plant Tuscaloosa will also assemble the next SUV generations including the hybrid versions. The plant expansion in this context includes a new Body Shop, major enhancements to the SUV Assembly Shop as well as upgraded logistics and IT systems. State-of-the-art technologies and an end-to-end digitization of production processes enable a highly flexible production. As part of the global production network, Tuscaloosa is connected to all Mercedes-Benz Cars locations around the world, allowing a location-independent access to data and process management. Every single installation and every robot, for example, can be controlled and updated to new software programmes. Big Data applications will be used for intelligent analyses and for an improvement of the production processes.

“With this expansion and modernization of our plant, we will create 300 new jobs and continue the success story of Mercedes-Benz in Tuscaloosa,” said Jason Hoff, President and CEO of MBUSI. “Our entire team is proud to reinforce the State of Alabama’s growing reputation as a leader in high-quality automotive manufacturing.”

The new 1.3-million square foot (125,000 square meters) Body Shop will use the latest lightweight technologies with innovative joining processes and employ a modular approach to manufacturing. MBUSI’s current SUV Assembly Shop will be expanded by 139,930 square feet (13,000 square meters) and receive a larger, more flexible “marriage” station, where the body is merged with the powertrain, allowing for production of a wider range of vehicles. The plant will also upgrade its Logistics IT system to create a seamless integration of the supply base into the Mercedes-Benz plant operations.

– By: Chris Chin

 


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