For the first time since Mercedes-Benz began building cars in Alabama, production numbers will be reduced because of shrinking demand for the large SUVs the Tuscaloosa site is responsible for. The plant's 3,869 employees produce the GL-Class and ML-Class SUV's, as well as the R-Class crossover. The latest announcement indicates that even industry stalwarts such as Mercedes-Benz are being affected by the poor economic conditions and rising fuel prices.

A spokesperson for Mercedes-Benz stated that the decision was made to "stay competitive and guarantee long term success."

The production cuts will occur around the Thanksgiving and Christmas period, with the usual holiday shutdown period being extended. An inside source revealed to Automotive News that the plant would close an "additional five days around the Labor Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays."

In addition to this, six nights worth of the night-shift production will be cut back around the end of the year. The exact volume reduction caused by the cutbacks is not yet known and Mercedes remains reluctant to reveal any information about the severity of the reduction.