Mercedes celebrates production of all-electric SUV in Vance

Mercedes-Benz U.S. International is celebrating the production of their first all-electric SUV, and it’s being built exclusively in Vance.

On Aug. 25, the company hosted state officials, local workforce leaders and plant team members to unveil the EQS.

It was a fun atmosphere featuring music by the Sons Of MyStro, entertainment by the Hiplet Ballerinas, and the general feeling of accomplishment shared by the entire team.

“We’re glad the board made the decision years ago that this place is getting the electric SUVs and with the EQS now starting in production and the EQE coming up at end of this year, beginning of next year,” said MBUSI President and CEO Michael Goebel. “We believe we have two products which will be extremely successful on the markets. You know, the EQS is only produced here in Vance for the global market and that is always really exciting.”

The first M-Class rolled through the production line at Plant 1 in 1997. Now, 25 years later, Plant 1 will exclusively build the new electric car. The company started the switch about eight months ago.

Before the celebration, members of the media toured the production line, where men, women and machines were putting the luxury cars together piece by meticulous piece.

All batteries used here are built at the battery plant in Bibb County. Team leaders said each battery weighs about 1,500 pounds, and while you may wonder if that weighs the car down, it’s actually quite the opposite.

“When you switch to an electric car, the first thing you recognize immediately is the acceleration,” Goebel said. “It’s so smooth. It’s so powerful. It’s incredible. And with the hyperscreen and all the digital features, it really looks like a futuristic car, and when you drive it, it feels so.”

Joerg Burzer has worked at MBUSI in the past and currently works back in Germany as a member of the Board of Management of Mercedes-Benz Group AG, Production and Supply Chain. He was in Vance for the celebration, sharing how great the teamwork has been on an international level to make this happen.

“This was especially challenging during this covid time with the travel restrictions and quarantines and whatever, so I’m very very proud and thankful that we had the pilot team members coming to Germany and working there,” Burzer said. “So, coming to Germany means also working on the first cars, learning how they’re assembled and then gaining know-how and bringing the know-how back to the production location to MBUSI. We have a pretty international setup during these times in Germany, plus very challenging for the colleagues here and I’m very thankful that they did that.”

While cars with internal combustion engines remain the overwhelming majority on American roadways, Goebel said the automotive world is changing, and the EQS is a part of that change.

“I think the future really is electric,” Goebel said. “When you go into different markets, like for example Norway, you will be not able to register an ICE car just in a couple of months. There, the infrastructure is already there. When you look at the U.S. I think we have a very diverse picture between, for example, California or the Southeast, but that will get developed pretty soon.”

The EQS is one of eight electric vehicles Mercedes-Benz produces among seven locations across three continents.

If you’re interested in picking one up, the 2023 EQS is expected to start at around $90,000. In comparison, the Tesla Model X starts at $120,000 and the 2023 Cadillac Lyriq starts at $62,990.

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