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

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.

  • FreedMike Kudos to Chris for making an uninteresting car interesting to read about.
  • FreedMike Alfa had its’ shot in this market, and it didn’t work out. Of course, based on Alfa’s horrid history of reliability record, scathing quality related reports like this one certainly didn’t help. Yes, the base models weren’t that bad, but this kind of atrocious press was the worst possible thing for a brand that got drummed out of this market over quality issues. Besides, Dodge is a LOT more viable in this market than Alfa Romeo. Let the Europeans have Alfas.
  • Dukeisduke That charging station in the picture looks like it's nailed to the back of an old utility pole and weather beaten chest of drawers. Lol, WTH?
  • Dukeisduke Corey, do you have links for some of those ads? I'd like to be able to zoom in on them.
  • Dukeisduke A free Model T Touring Car? Heck, I'd take one of those, even today. The ABC radio news ad has a few names I recognize - columnist Walter Winchell (he later narrated TV's "The Untouchables"), Drew Pearson, who was an accomplished journalist and writer, Dorothy Kilgallen, a columnist who later appeared on game shows in the '50s, like "What's My Line?", and Hollywood gossip columnist Louella Parsons.