Mercedes-Benz US hosts Suppliers Forum, prepares for next-gen SUVs

by Autocar Pro News Desk , 13 Jun 2018

Purchasing and operation leaders of Mercedes-Benz Cars and Mercedes-Benz U.S. International (MBUSI) met with representatives from 240 suppliers at the company’s annual Supplier Forum in June.

MBUSI has held supplier forums such as this one to orient its suppliers to expectations for its new models prior to every launch since the plant first began building SUVs in 1997. This year, MBUSI officials spent considerable time articulating supplier needs for the next-generation SUV – which will include new plug-in-hybrid models – that will be presented later this year.

"More than ever, partnership with our supplier network is taking centre stage. Because only together with our partners can Mercedes-Benz Cars bring intelligent, energy-efficient and superior quality products to our customers. Our exacting standards begin with our demanding production program, so it is critical that we work closely with our suppliers from these initial conversations all the way through final assembly," said Klaus Dr Zehender, Member of the Divisional Board Mercedes-Benz Cars, Procurement and Supplier Quality.

"The annual supplier forum provides our supplier partners and the company with an invaluable opportunity to exchange ideas and strengthen our relationship," he added.

Jason Hoff, president and CEO of Mercedes-Benz U.S. International, Inc. (MBUSI) and Plant Manager of the Tuscaloosa plant, underscored the ongoing importance of SUV production in Tuscaloosa: "The Mercedes-Benz Tuscaloosa plant is our primary SUV production site with the current GLE, GLE Coupé and GLS series produced here exclusively for the world market. During our more than 20 years of production in Alabama, we’ve realized tremendous success in securing strong suppliers and partners to help us build our world-class vehicles and securing a workforce to support our goals."

Localisation rate as an important strategy
Mercedes-Benz Cars traditionally buys its component parts near its assembly plants. The localisation rate of Mercedes-Benz Cars in the US is higher than the federal regulatory requirement. Currently about 200 US-based suppliers work for the Tuscaloosa Mercedes-Benz plant.

Most of them are companies that followed Mercedes-Benz to Tuscaloosa and founded their own production facilities in the country. For example, Samvardhana Motherson Peguform (SMP), a global player from India, will supply the bumpers and door panels for the next Mercedes-Benz SUV models. SMP recently built a plant in Tuscaloosa and is currently in the process of hiring its workforce.

Today, the Daimler Group companies in the US employ around 24,400 people – 8.3 percent of the Group's global workforce. The company indirectly supports an estimated 150,000 additional jobs across the country. The Group’s companies primarily produce passenger cars and commercial vehicles at 23 locations throughout the U.S.

The Mercedes-Benz Tuscaloosa plant is currently being expanded to a high-tech location for SUV production. Furthermore, the site will be prepared for electric mobility. This includes the production of EQ-branded SUV models and also the construction of a battery factory near the existing passenger-car plant ensuring availability of cutting-edge technology for future generations of

The US is the second largest sales market for Mercedes-Benz. In the first five months of 2018, Mercedes-Benz sold more than 132,000 cars in the US and is the market leader among the premium manufacturers. Mercedes-Benz SUVs are the company’s most popular models and reached a new sales record -- globally as well as in the USA. In 2017, nearly 340,000 vehicles were delivered to American customers, making Mercedes-Benz the top-selling luxury brand in the United States.

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