Daimler's Tuscaloosa, Alabama plant has built its first GLE on a new SUV platform while a groundbreaking ceremony marked the start of the construction of a new battery factory.

The factory will be built near the vehicle assembly site providing batteries for future electric EQ brand SUVs.

Mercedes-Benz Cars production and supply chain chief Markus Schaefer said: "One year ago, we announced US$1bn investment in Tuscaloosa mostly for the production of electric SUVs and a battery plant. Around the globe, we are preparing six sites for production of EQ models and our battery network will consist of eight factories."

The new production site for batteries – along with the new Consolidation Center – is located seven miles from the assembly plant. The Consolidation Center, also announced as part of the 2017 investment announcement, will consist of body parts and assembly parts preparation areas plus an empties storage and is expected to be operational in 2019.

More than $6bn has been spent on the Tuscaloosa plant since 1995. Once completed, these latest investments will create 600 additional jobs.

Prior to the groundbreaking ceremony, Mercedes-Benz US International celebrated the start of production of the first new GLE. Tuscaloosa has served as the traditional production site for SUVs since 1997 and the factory supplies the current GLE, GLE Coupé and GLS models worldwide with two thirds exported.