For Suppliers Only!
Production of next generation SUVs of Mercedes-Benz will start in 2018. Now, representatives from 240 suppliers got exlusive insight. At the Supplier Forum MBUSI.
The new car closely guarded. Access only with confidentiality agreement and no smartphone. Understandable, because the next Mercedes-Benz SUV model is in the middle of the ramp up. Start of production is in 2018. As soon as the car was revealed, scrutinizing looks and appreciative nods. At the beginning of June, 240 representatives of suppliers traveled to Birmingham, Alabama to the annual Supplier Forum of Mercedes-Benz U.S. International (MBUSI). This year, officials of MBUSI and Mercedes-Benz Cars Procurement & Supplier Quality spent considerable time articulating supplier needs for the next generation SUV – which will include new plug-in-hybrid models.
“More than ever, partnership with our supplier network is taking center stage. Because only together with our partners can Mercedes-Benz Cars bring intelligent, energy-efficient and superior quality products to our customers. It is critical that we work closely with our suppliers from these initial conversations all the way through final assembly,” said Klaus Zehender, Member of the Divisional Board Mercedes-Benz Cars, Procurement & Supplier Quality. “The annual Supplier Forum provides our supplier partners and the company with an invaluable opportunity to exchange ideas and strengthen our relationship”, he adds.
Exklusively produced in the U.S. for the world market
Jason Hoff, President and CEO of Mercedes-Benz U.S. International, Inc. (MBUSI) and Plant Manager of the Tuscaloosa plant, underscored the ongoing importance of SUV production in Tuscaloosa: “The Mercedes-Benz Tuscaloosa plant is our primary SUV production site with the current GLE, GLE Coupé and GLS series produced here exclusively for the world market. During our more than 20 years of production in Alabama, we’ve realized tremendous success in securing strong suppliers and partners to help us build our world-class vehicles and securing a workforce to support our goals.”
Localization rate as an important strategy component
Mercedes-Benz Cars traditionally buys its component parts near its assembly plants. The localization rate of Mercedes-Benz Cars in the U.S. is higher than the federal regulatory requirement. Currently about 200 U.S. based suppliers work for the Tuscaloosa Mercedes-Benz plant. Most of them are companies that followed Mercedes-Benz to Tuscaloosa and founded their own production facilities in the country. For example, Samvardhana Motherson Peguform (SMP), a global player from India, will supply the bumpers and door panels for the next Mercedes-Benz SUV models. SMP recently built a plant in Tuscaloosa and is currently in the process of hiring its workforce.
Today, the Daimler Group companies in the U.S. employ around 24,400 people – 8.3 percent of the Group’s global workforce. The company indirectly supports an estimated 150,000 additional jobs across the country. The Group’s companies primarily produce passenger cars and commercial vehicles at 23 locations throughout the U.S. However, U.S. based corporate assets also including several research and development locations.
Investment of $6 billion
The Tuscaloosa plant was the first major Mercedes-Benz production plant outside Germany and is considered the nucleus of the automotive industry in Alabama. The site currently employs more than 3,700 people. In addition, the Tuscaloosa plant indirectly supports an estimated 22,000 additional jobs of which approximately 10,000 are at suppliers and service providers in the region. Since 1995, more than $6 billion has been invested in the Tuscaloosa plant. In 2017, more than 280,000 vehicles rolled off the assembly line in Tuscaloosa. More than two thirds of the SUVs produced in Alabama are exported to almost every country in the world. This makes Mercedes-Benz Cars the second largest vehicle exporter in the USA.