Mercedes-Benz U.S. International on Tuesday opened its new electric vehicle battery plant, which is expected to create nearly 600 new jobs at its Bibb County campus.
The company hosted a grand opening ceremony at the new battery plant in the town of Woodstock, with civic leaders from Bibb County and neighboring Tuscaloosa County in attendance, along with top Mercedes officials.
Guests were treated to a tour of the factory and a sneak peek of the company’s new electric vehicles, which have the brand name EQ.
The new 700,000-square-foot factory will produce batteries for the EQS and EQE SUVs, which are expected to begin production later this year at MBUSI’s Vance plant in Tuscaloosa County. Mercedes said it plans to go fully electric by 2030, as market conditions allow.
Gov. Kay Ivey, who attended Tuesday’s ceremony, said Mercedes-Benz has served as a catalyst for growth for Alabama’s automotive industry.
“This partnership that we have with Mercedes-Benz and Germany has helped pave the way for Alabama to be a top five auto-producing state,” Ivey said.
MBUSI began building vehicles at the Tuscaloosa County facility in 1997, becoming the first automaker to build a production facility in Alabama. Since then, Hyundai, Honda, Toyota, Mazda and countless suppliers have followed in Mercedes’ footsteps by choosing Alabama for operations.
The German automaker has invested more than $6 billion dollars in its Tuscaloosa County plant.
Mercedes currently employs about 4,500 people at its Vance plant. The factory is home to the production of the GLS, GLS-Maybach, GLE, and GLE-coupe and will soon produce the EQS and EQE SUVs.
Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox, who also attended Tuesday’s ceremony, said the city plans to add more electric vehicle charging stations in Tuscaloosa to support Mercedes’ vision of becoming fully electric by 2030.
Maddox said he believes the recent increase in gas prices may also increase the demand for electric vehicle technology.
“We want Mercedes to be a partner. This is one of the best companies in the world,” Maddox said. “We want to be the flag(ship) station for North American Mercedes. So, putting more EV stations and charging stations is just one small step we can do to secure our economic future here in Tuscaloosa and Tuscaloosa County.”
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According to the Associated Press, Mercedes said it spent about $1 billion on the battery plant and to upgrade the assembly line in Tuscaloosa to make electric vehicles.
The Bibb County battery plant will make lithium-ion batteries with an advanced chemistry that contains nickel, cobalt and manganese, Mercedes said.
It is one of six battery factories that the company plans including two in Germany, one each in China and Thailand and one in Poland. Mercedes plans to build EVs at seven plants on three continents.
Reach Jasmine Hollie at [email protected].
This article originally appeared on The Tuscaloosa News: Mercedes-Benz to create 600 jobs at new Bibb County battery plant