Mercedes-Benz will spend $1 billion in its Tuscaloosa, Alabama assembly plant to build batteries and electric SUVs, the German automaker confirmed Thursday as part of the 20th anniversary celebration for its U.S. plant.
The electric SUV is scheduled for early next decade. The plans call for a new facility nearby to produce the batteries for use in the SUV and other vehicles. Construction of the battery plant is scheduled to begin next year. Together, the plans are expected to add up to 600 new jobs.
The Tuscaloosa plant currently builds C-Class cars for North America and GLE and GLS SUVs.
The unnamed electric SUV will fall under the new EQ sub-brand. EQ stands for "Electric Intelligence," and the vehicles will all ride a new skateboard-like electric architecture with the battery pack in the floor and one or two motors mounted above the axles.
The first of those vehicles may be the EQC. We have spotted test mules of the electric EQC undergoing testing. The C in the name indicates the EQC will be sized like the GLC crossover, which sold almost 48,000 units in the U.S. last year. The EQC is scheduled to be built in Mercedes' plant in Bremen, Germany, and to be released in late 2018 or early 2019. Those plans could change, however, and Mercedes could decide to build that vehicle in the U.S. Mercedes had also planned to source the EQC's lithium-ion battery from Daimler subsidiary Deutsche Accumotive, which has a battery factory in Germany. Those plans could also change.
Mercedes has plans for 10 electric vehicles under its EQ sub-brand by 2025. One of those is sure to be the smaller EQA that was recently unveiled at the Frankfurt auto show.