US: One millionth US-built Merc produced

By just-auto.com editorial team | 27 November 2007

Mercedes-Benz US International (MBUSI) has manufactured its one millionth vehicle - 10 years and nine months after the first M-Class rolled off the production line back in 1997 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama (USA). Today, three vehicles are built at the facility - the second-generation M-Class, the R-Class Sports Tourer and the GL-Class luxury SUV.

The milestone vehicle -- a white M-Class 350 -- came off the line on November 27 at 7:59 a.m. (Central Standard Time). The vehicle features sporty wheels, running boards, rear view camera and navigation system.

"Our entire organization is extremely proud of this accomplishment and the global teamwork that has made it happen," said Bill Taylor, plant manager of plant Tuscaloosa since 1998. "Alabama has provided us with an excellent workforce and this state has been committed to the success of our business. Because of that commitment to our plant, we plan to donate this vehicle to a non-profit within the state." A final decision on the beneficiary of the vehicle will be made in the coming weeks.

When the 1998 Mercedes-Benz M-Class first arrived, the new sport utility vehicle started a trend that inspired the entire auto industry to shift toward more luxurious car-like SUVs. Launched as the only sport utility in its class with four-wheel independent suspension, the original M-Class was one of the first to be designed from the ground up, rather than being based on an existing truck platform.

During the eight-year life cycle of the first-generation vehicle, more than 570,000 M-Class SUVs were produced in Tuscaloosa with about half of them sold in the U.S.

Year-to-date, Mercedes-Benz has sold 146,900 of its sport utility vehicles worldwide (+10% compared to the same month in 2006). The Alabama built vehicles achieved a new sales record in the U.S. as from January - October 2007 59,400 vehicles were sold (+11% compared to 2006).