Growth planning in the SUV family
In quick succession. First GLE, then GLS and then even more SUV models. At the MBUSI Supplier Forum in Tuscaloosa it was all about full concentration on family growth.
Wide variety, high complexity, top quality, but also new SUV innovations and sustainability in the supply chain. These were the topics at the Mercedes-Benz U.S. Supplier Forum 2019 (MBUSI). The top management of 90 suppliers came to Tuscaloosa/Alabama in June for this, to the Mercedes-Benz plant Visitor Center. For the exchange of ideas, partner collaboration and most of all to ask the decisive question: Are we ready for new SUV family members? The answer to the decisive questions was a clear YES – from every supplier.
Markus Schäfer (Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG, Group Research & Mercedes-Benz Cars Development) was the keynote speaker at the plenary session. He is also responsible for the MBC Procurement & Supplier Quality division since June 2019. In his new function, Markus Schäfer introduced himself for the first time to the suppliers. With his statement, he made clear that the SUV family growth has not been completed yet: “Be prepared, things are really getting started now! Tuscaloosa is the heart of our SUV production, let us continue the success story together.“
Changeover of President and CEO of Mercedes-Benz U.S. International (MBUSI) during the Supplier Forum: Jason Hoff handed over to Michael Göbel on July 1st. Also involved Wolf-Dieter Kurz, Vice President Mercedes-Benz Cars, Product Group SUVs & Compact Cars, who pointed out to suppliers further challenges of the upcoming ramp-ups in the SUV family. “More than a third of all Mercedes-Benz sales relate to the SUV segment“, said Wolf-Dieter Kurz. Inga von Seelen, Vice President MBUSI, clarified which aspects of the Supplier Forum are special for suppliers. “Here at the Mercedes-Benz Tuscaloosa plant you will see, how your component comes together with the other components to create a whole and become something great. About two thirds of installed parts and components come from North American suppliers“.
Hand over Smartphones first – then into the strictly guarded presentation room. There, suppliers could see another SUV model for the first time. A long time before production start. At further presentation it was clear: The variety is huge. Production, Procurement and Suppliers must work closely together.
The Mercedes-Benz Tuscaloosa plant is the production site for the current SUV model series GLE, GLS and GLE Coupé. The C-Class Saloon for the North American market is also produced here. Since 1997, more than 3.2 million vehicles have been produced at the Tuscaloosa plant. In 2018 approx. 240,000 vehicles came from the plant’s production line. There are currently more than 3,800 employees at MBUSI, providing more than 10,000 jobs at suppliers and service providers in the region. About two thirds of installed parts and components come from North American suppliers. About two thirds of the SUV produced exclusively in Alabama are exported to almost every country in the world. MBUSI is therefore the second largest automobile exporter in the US.