Mercedes-Benz plant marks 20th Anniversary of M-Class

"It was Valentine's Day, 20 years ago, and the car you see behind me here was the first one that rolled off the line," said Jason Hoff, President and CEO of Mercedes-Benz U.S. International.

1,000 employees helped launch the first M-Class at the Tuscaloosa County, Alabama plant in 1997. In 2017, MBUSI employs 3,600 team members. The manufacturing facility builds four vehicle models, contracting a fifth one out.

"If you think about how it led to economic development and growth in the state, now we have four automotive OEM's in the state, plus countless suppliers," Hoff added.

Expansion continues at MBUSI. A new body shop has been built to manufacture the next generation SUVs. The new vehicles are the successors to the GLE, GLS, and GLE Coupe.

"The building has been finished. We're getting ready to install equipment," Hoff told ABC 33/40 News. "In our next generation SUVs we will continue to have electrification of our vehicles through some hybrid technology."

The new SUVs are in the design phase. The $1.3 billion expansion will add 300 jobs. Production of the new line is expected to launch in 2018 or 2019.

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