Thousands of Mercedes-Benz GLEs Mysteriously Chilling on North German Runway

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
thousands of mercedes benz gles mysteriously chilling on north german runway

Daimler has been forced to store thousands of vehicles at a former military airport in northern Germany, the result of supplier issues that are stalling deliveries of the updated GLE-Class. While keeping cars on ice until they can be shipped is totally normal, it’s odd to see them lined up on a runway. It makes it look like they’re all about to take to the sky or engage in the most congested drag race in history.

Assembled in Alabama, these SUVs are being held up by unknown supply chain problems. Mercedes-Benz suggested there may be also be problems stemming from the multi-market launch of the updated GLE and a surge in output from the U.S. factory.

Bloomberg, which also covered the story, noted that this isn’t the first time a German manufacturer has stored automobiles at an airport. Last year, Volkswagen leased space at an unfinished Germa airport in order to store thousands of vehicles of its own. Loads of dieselgate cars have been similarly kept on ice in odd spots around North America — we covered how the company converted the defunct Pontiac Silverdome into a makeshift purgatory back in 2017.

For Mercedes, the reasoning is a bit less clear. According to Daimler, demand for the GLE has remained strong since the model’s update. However, a glance at sales through 2019 shows deliveries are down in Europe by a broad margin. While that’s undoubtedly due to the gradual rollout of the model’s fourth generation, it’s looking like that might not be the only problem.

Numerous German outlets claim the cars are being held over various “defects” and that vehicles are being rotated in and out on a daily basis, the vast majority of them being GLEs. However, GLS, E, C and S-Class models are also sitting at the Ahlhorn airport. Stuttgarter Nachrichten reported that roughly 9,000 cars are also rumored to be heading to Daimler’s plant in Bremen for some unknown improvements.

From Bloomberg:

The company has issued four profit warnings in little more than a year, most recently in July, when the company included a “slower model ramp-up” as one of the reasons for cutting its full-year guidance. At that time, Chief Executive Officer Ola Kallenius highlighted issues with the company’s SUVs on a quarterly earnings call. Problems with a supplier in the U.S. caused production bottlenecks, Kallenius said at the time.

Daimler rose 2.1 [percent] to 43.93 euros at 9:49 a.m. in Frankfurt trading, trimming losses this year to 4.3 [percent]. Carmakers are under pressure from slowing markets globally.

The automaker claims nothing is out of the ordinary, adding that it has used Ahlhorn airport for storage in the past. However, the GLEs appear to have left the site with few vacancies (check out the drone footage from Radio Bremen below). Hopefully, Mercedes can get these babies out to Europeans as soon as possible — as that would go a long way toward improving GLE figures within the market.

[Image: Daimler AG]

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  • Tinbad Tinbad on Sep 05, 2019

    “Made in Alabama”

  • Schmitt trigger Schmitt trigger on Sep 05, 2019

    OT: Watching the attached video, I saw the Kassbohrer auto-transporter, and remember how ubiquitous they appeared to be on a recent trip thru Europe. This piqued my interest and Googling the company and found that among other things, at one time also produced the Setra buses, which are also quite ubiquitous over there.

  • Tassos Subaru really knows how to take fugly to ever higher levels, and sell every one of the (of course very few) it makes. As if the number of sales negates the fugliness.Don't hold your breath. I bet this will NOT be the vehicle James Bond arrives at the Casino in Monte Carlo with in his next flick. (if any)
  • ToolGuy Government overreach. Park the Ford in your air-conditioned garage on a maintenance charger and this won't be a problem.Here's some (old) general background if you are interested.@ILO, there are 3 Fords, and Ford Pro™ is the one with the bright future 🙂
  • ToolGuy No harm no foul (no one died), business is business, yada yada. Why must everyone pick on dealers?-this post dedicated to Ruggles
  • Hydrocrust Parts
  • ToolGuy The vehicle development process which gave the world the Neon was so amazing (according to the automotive press) that it prompted Rick Wagoner to hire Bob Lutz.Didn't work 🙂