Mercedes-Benz parent company Daimler is following Tesla's lead by constructing a battery plant in the United States to supply its future fleet of locally made electric cars.
The battery plant will be located seven miles from Mercedes' vehicle plant in Tuscaloosa, Alabama and is part of a $1 billion investment announced by Daimler a year ago during 20th anniversary celebrations for the vehicle plant which builds most of Mercedes' SUVs.
A groundbreaking ceremony for the battery plant took place on Friday, the same day the first customer example of the redesigned 2020 GLE rolled off the line at the nearby vehicle plant.
Daimler said the first electric car to be built in Tuscaloosa will be a Mercedes EQ SUV. It's possible the model will be the 2020 EQC unveiled in September, which is due in showrooms in early 2020 and will offer more than 200 miles of range in base trim. The EQC so far has only been confirmed for production in Bremen, Germany.
Daimler will eventually have six production sites for various EQ models which will be sold by the Mercedes and Smart brands. The German auto giant will also have eight battery plants, not only for vehicles but also energy storage solutions. Other locations for battery plants include Thailand, Germany and China.
This worldwide network of battery plants will allow Mercedes to react flexibly and efficiently to market demands and requirements. The different sites will supply local vehicle production but will be able to export batteries, if required.
"The widely export oriented Mercedes-Benz plant in Tuscaloosa is a high-tech production facility with a successful history and an exciting future in terms of our brand in the United States,” Mercedes production chief Markus Schäfer said. “We aim to play a pioneering role in the development of e-mobility and are well prepared to accomplish this mission.”
Why such a rapid expansion of battery production? Mercedes is committed to offering 10 electric cars by 2025 and having an electrified option in each of its model lines by 2022.