By on September 4, 2019

Image: Daimler AG

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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16 Comments on “Thousands of Mercedes-Benz GLEs Mysteriously Chilling on North German Runway...”

  • avatar
    Stanley Steamer

    If every car had a driver and they all hit the gas at the same time, could the whole mass of cars really move at once without bumping into each other? Could it theoretically work if they were autonomous? It’s fascinating to think that if I were the 20th car behind at a red light and all the cars were autonomous, I would start moving the moment the light turns green. Like being on a train.

    • 0 avatar

      I dream of a day when everyone just GOES when the light turns green as described. Instead I have to sit in traffic thru another red/green cycle because everyone in front of me delayed just a little bit (or longer). You can get the same thing in regards to being stopped (IE: not going) because of people tapping their brakes. The person in front taps which causes the next in line to tap and so on until traffic comes to a complete stop for NO reason at all. Madness!

  • avatar

    That German TV story told that seat- and bumper problems were the reason US made SUVs were at airport storage. Some changes will be made by factory in Bremen.

  • avatar

    The picture reminds me Leni Riefenstahl’s masterpiece “Triumph of the Will”.

  • avatar

    THIS OBVIOUSLY MEANS THEY’RE GOING BANKRUPT! Oh wait, we only say that when we see a bunch of Teslas awaiting delivery. Sorry, I get confused.

  • avatar

    Maybe the defect is that nobody wants diesels anymore and these are sixty grand CUVs that have nothing to recommend them over thirty five grand CUVs. Daimler’s 2.0T compliance engine is one of the worst, and the GLE looks more like a Nissan than many Nissans do.

  • avatar

    Maybe the defect is that nobody wants diesels anymore and these are sixty grand CUVs that have nothing to recommend them over thirty five grand CUVs. Daimler’s 2.0T compliance engine is one of the worst, and the GLE looks more like a Nissan than many Nissans do.

  • avatar

    Um. I broke this story months ago.

    The cars are covering-up the ghetto Century Plaza mall in Birmingham. They’ve been there for at least 6 months.

  • avatar

    Nah…they just saw the “Roll Tide” stickers on the rear bumper of each one and got a little worried about environmental impacts…

  • avatar

    “Made in Alabama”

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    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.

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