By on September 18, 2015

Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupé (2014)

Daimler announced Friday that it would spend $1.3 billion in its Tuscaloosa, Alabama factory to upgrade its equipment and technology, and to also add a 1.3 million square-foot body shop.

The investment will also add 300 jobs to the plant, which produces the C-Class and GL-class — and perhaps GLT? — and work is reportedly already underway. The plant has been open since 1997 and has predominantly produced SUVs, although its future products are less clear.

Mercedes is reportedly preparing to make a truck, based on the Nissan Navara, to release in global markets. In Frankfurt, the updated Nissan Navara and related Renault Alaskan made their debuts, although only the Navara will have a life in the U.S. — probably as the next Frontier. Mercedes would need to produce its pickups in the NAFTA zone to avoid a Chicken Tax if they were to sell one here. (Sprinter doesn’t care.)

According to the automaker, the plant improvements will add hybrid capability to their SUVs, including the GLE.

The investment will reportedly create a much larger “marriage station,” which is where bodies will meet chassis. Mercedes produced more than 230,000 cars at the plant in 2014, and will reportedly make more than 300,000 cars this year, according to Reuters.

The improvements will reportedly be complete by 2017.

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18 Comments on “Daimler Spending $1.3B at Alabama Plant, Truck Coming?...”

  • avatar

    I wonder if the Merecedes diesels have the same kind of software that the EPA is accusing VW of putting in their 4 cylinder TDI diesels?

    Where the thing recognizes it’s undergoing an emissions test and all the pollution gear works, and then in regular use turns off the pollution controls and emits 40 times more NOX than allowed by law.

    Surely this is the big story today? Corporate cheating. According to The Guardian, VW has admitted to this cheat. What about the other Germans, I wonder.

  • avatar

    I went to Mercedes to check out a GLE AMG Coupe.


    Couldn’t even sit up straight in the back seat. Head through the moonroof basically. I think I liked the BMW X6 better. This is basically the exact same car.

    Mercedes might as well focus on the GLA and CLA the way these people’s credit scores and cash-on-hand is lookin’.

  • avatar

    An F-150 with the W222 interior would be very nice!!!

    Champagne flutes instead of double wide cup holders.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    I really don’t know how many MB pickups are in demand in the US, especially midsizers.

    The Chicken Tax issue has been around for a long time. The removal of the Chicken Tax would do more good than harm.

    I would of thought VW would sell more Amaroks than MB pickups.

    The next Frontier will be the narrow body version of the global Navara.

  • avatar

    I could see a 4-door crew cab version of the G-Class doing quite well, but the problem is there is to much disparity in the price of the SUV version. To sell in decent numbers the thing would have to be priced around $70-80k. Unfortunately, the SUV is nearly double that in price. This is of-course for a semi-mainstream vehicle. Crew cab 5.5L V8, none of that crazy 6×6 AMG stuff.

  • avatar

    Luxury SUVs sell wonderfully in America. Luxury trucks, not so much. Even if they never face anything rougher than a gravel road with an empty bed, I imagine most truck owners want to at least *believe* they might use their truck to do ‘truck stuff’. Even GM and Ford gave up on luxury trucks (Escalade EXTMark LT), and nobody would argue that they know how to build trucks and understand the market.

    As for the GLE Coupe, I didn’t think anything could make the X6 look good but I was wrong. These things are sprouting up like flowers around here. They somehow manage to look like a car on stilts more than almost anything else on the road.

    • 0 avatar

      Luxury trucks sell well in America if they have the Blue Oval, Bowtie, Ram head, or the letters “GMC” on them.

      • 0 avatar

        Luxury truck buyers want luxurious accommodations, but not at the expense of completely alienating their fellow blue-collar counterparts. Driving a top-of-the-line model of a blue collar brand is nowhere near as pretentious and alienating as driving the same vehicle with a luxury badge. Explains why the Escalade sells just fine, but the EXT is as dead as a doorknob on a foreclosed Detroit home.

    • 0 avatar

      You’re wrong about Americans not buying luxury trucks. Ever heard of the Silverado High Country? Sierra Denali? Ram Laramie or Limited? F-series King Ranch or Platinum? They might not wear fancy badges but these definitely are the luxury trucks of today.

      • 0 avatar

        He means that they aren’t buying Cadillac or Lincoln crew cab trucks. SUVs? Yes. Crew Cabs? No.

        • 0 avatar

          I know, I just think it’s important to let him know that a luxury car/truck does not need to have a luxury badge on the grille, and vice versa.

          And concerning the article: I’m almost certain that an MB-branded truck would not be a success. Sure, it would be profitable for them to build it since it will probably be sold in 100+ markets, but conquer America it won’t. It’s been some time since I visited the US so my knowledge on the social trends might not be up-to-date, but I’m fairly certain that most Mercedes buyers would not entertain the thought of owning a pickup truck, and pickup truck buyers would not look for one in a MB dealership.

      • 0 avatar

        I should have been more clear. I meant luxury/premium _brand_ trucks. I live in truck country. I see trucks with $55K+ MSRPs all day long. What I don’t see is anyone asking for a Mercedes or Audi or BMW truck. If Ford and GM can’t field a successful truck from Lincoln or Cadillac, the Germans aren’t about to take the country by storm with one.

    • 0 avatar

      If MBUSA were to sell a pickup truck it would be sold through Sprinter like the Metris currently is. As to the off-road prowess of the W166 (ML/GL/GLE) an off road package is offered that adds airmatic, metal skid plates, and adjustable drive dynamics. I’ve been around the off road course in such a GL, they hold up fine.

    • 0 avatar

      Absolutely no intention of selling a Mercedes Pickup in NA and Daimler made it pretty clear about it’ s reference to ” Cowboy Pickups” New factory for more Vans and SUV’s

    • 0 avatar

      johnny_5.0 – IIRC at least 40% of Ford pickups sold are higher level trims i.e. Lariat, Platinum, King Ranch, and Harley Davidson. Same can be said for Ram and GM. That is one area Silverado was neglecting until the introduction of the “High Country”.

      • 0 avatar

        With power windows and door locks, cruise control, bluetooth, talking electronics, multiple speakers, and air conditioning, I’d say that just about every pickup sold today in the USA is a “luxury” truck. I probably put automatic transmissions at the top of the “luxury” list although I realize some people occasionally make specific use of the torque converter aspect.

        Daimler would merely bring a higher purchase price, a badge, and horrendous depreciation.

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