Mercedes-Benz is setting the course for the future at the Mercedes-Benz U. S. International, Inc. Supplier Forum 2017, held last week in Alabama. In strategic discussions with selected suppliers, Mercedes-Benz met with its supplier network for the future production program at the Tuscaloosa plant in Alabama – the traditional manufacturing location for SUVs.

“Our suppliers stand for innovation and top quality. That’s also true for the American supplier industry,” explains Dr Klaus Zehender, Member of the Divisional Board of Mercedes-Benz Cars, Procurement and Supplier Quality. “Now we are setting the course for the future and, together with our partners, we will create the basis for successful series production of future SUV models.”

Dr Klaus Zehender and Wolf-Dieter Kurz, Head of the SUV and Compact Cars Product Groups, Mercedes-Benz Cars, underlined the current and future importance of SUV production in Tuscaloosa during personal discussions with partners, including Lear Corporation, SMP and Magna Kamtek. Mercedes-Benz emphasized the successful partnership that has grown over the last years. “The increasing requirements due to a continual rise in production numbers for the SUV segment was a massive challenge for all suppliers, which was mastered very well,” says Klaus Zehender.

Jason Hoff, President and CEO of Mercedes-Benz US International, Inc. echoed Dr Zehender’s comments. “These are exciting times for our Alabama facility as we prepare to take on this new challenge to build the next generation of SUVs. Mercedes-Benz became the first auto manufacturing plant to build vehicles in Alabama more than 20 years ago and, since that time, other automakers and suppliers have joined us. Our suppliers have found – just as we have – that Alabama is a great place to do business.”

Localization rate continually increased
Currently, there are almost 200 U.S.-based suppliers providing support to the Mercedes-Benz Tuscaloosa plant. The majority are international companies that have followed Mercedes-Benz to Tuscaloosa and established their own production sites in the U.S.A.. Leading companies are, for example, the two global players Friedrich Boysen and Brose Fahrzeugteile, which both have locations in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Many of these suppliers also export components from the U.S. to other Mercedes-Benz plants worldwide.

Mercedes-Benz sees value in having more suppliers with locations in Alabama: It increases overall flexibility, improves direct communication between the plant and its suppliers, reduces transport times and optimizes manufacturing and logistics costs. Overall, this results in considerably increased efficiency. Reciprocal cooperation leads to greater breadth and depth localization.

Source: Daimler AG