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July 25, 2007

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Mercedes-Benz Alabama plant in Tuscaloosa  celebrates ten years of production

Mercedes-Benz U.S. International, Inc. (MBUSI) yesterday celebrated the ten year production anniversary of the Mercedes-Benz M-Class. At the event, Alabama Governor Bob Riley, Dr. Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of DaimlerChrysler AG and Head of the Mercedes Car Group, as well as Plant Manager Bill Taylor welcomed current and former team members as well as guests, including government officials, business leaders, and local dignitaries.

In his address to team members and guests, Governor Riley emphasized the economic importance of Alabama’s first automaker: “In 2006, the economic impact of MBUSI and its Tier-1 suppliers was well over $6.8 billion to Alabama’s economy. Mercedes-Benz changed the economic development model for Alabama. It improved the economy of the whole state and helped to prove that Alabama is the place to be when it comes to doing business.”

“Right from the start, Alabama and Mercedes-Benz has been a win-win relationship. Since our decision to come here, we have invested more than $1 billion and twice expanded our production facilities. And that’s not without reason, since the plant produces top quality vehicles that are popular all over the world. Plus, the plant employs around 4,000 people and contributes strongly to society,” Dr. Zetsche underlined.


“Edition10” limited edition M-Class model

Dieter Zetsche with the "Edition 10" M-Class

To mark the tenth anniversary of the M-Class, Mercedes-Benz is presenting the limited edition model “Edition10”. In addition to the regular model, the special edition is marked with “Edition 10” badges on its fenders. The anniversary edition also contains a long list of features and distinguishes itself through attractive exterieur design elements. Customers can order the vehicle beginning in fall 2007. The model comes with a broad range of special features already included, such as 20-inch wheels, bi-xenon headlights, taillights with a sporty, dark background, and special color highlights for the vehicle body. Striking features of the sporty interior include two-tone leather appointments throughout, sport instruments, and stainless steel pedals.

Home of Mercedes-Benz family of SUVs

The M-Class is the pioneer among premium SUVs, first rolling off the production line in 1997. Since then, two additional models have been added to the original and best-selling Mercedes-Benz SUV: The R-Class, a versatile and comfortable SUV tourer positioned between an offroader and a traditional station wagon, as well as the GL-Class, which is the first premium full-size SUV of Mercedes-Benz. More than 960,000 units of the three models have been delivered to customers since 1997, making Mercedes-Benz the best-selling premium brand in the SUV segment. MBUSI produced more SUVs last year — over 170,000 units — than ever before in its 10 Year-history.

Customers continue to provide positive feedback for the vehicles made in Tuscaloosa. Among the award recipients of J. D. Power’s Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study published in June were two vehicles from Tuscaloosa: the GL-Class (Gold medal) and the M-Class. Each year, the American market research organization J.D. Power surveys consumers who have purchased new vehicles to measure customer satisfaction in terms of the respective automotive concepts.

Series production launched in 1997 The Tuscaloosa plant was commissioned on May 21, 1997, after a two-year construction period. It was Mercedes-Benz’ first passenger vehicle plant outside of Germany. When DaimlerChrysler decided to construct the plant in 1993, it became the first automaker to establish an automotive manufacturing facility in Alabama. All in all, MBUSI has directly or indirectly, created more than 22,000 jobs. If the workforce of the largest suppliers in the area are added to this figure, then more than 41,000 people are currently employed in Alabama’s auto industry, either directly or indirectly.

After quickly reaching the original production capacity target of 65,000 vehicles per year, Mercedes-Benz invested about $80 million in the plant in 1998 and 1999, to ensure that capacity could be increased to approximately 80,000 units per year.

Plant expansion in 2005 and broader product range

By investing a further $600 million since 2001, Mercedes-Benz has prepared the plant for the production of the second-generation M-Class (since 2005), the R-Class (since 2005) and the GL-Class (since 2006). The expansion has led to a doubling of the workforce (4,000) and the production capacity (160,000). The expansion has been completed and was opened in May 2005.

July 12, 2007

Photos: MBUSA

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