Mercedes-Benz on Thursday flipped the switch on a critical initiative in its attempt to catch up to EV front-runner Tesla.
The German luxury automaker announced the start of production of its first U.S.-made electric crossover — a battery-powered version of the GLS SUV.
Mercedes' 6-million-square-foot assembly plant in Vance, Ala., will supply global output of the full-sized EQS SUV, which rolls into U.S. stores in the fall.
The EQS SUV is the first of two EVs produced this year at the assembly plant 40 miles southwest of Birmingham, Ala.
The U.S. factory, one of seven EV production sites on three continents, could deliver more than 100,000 EVs next year, or about a third of its 305,000-unit annual capacity.
Jörg Burzer, global head of Mercedes-Benz production, said the automaker's manufacturing network is "well positioned for the sustainable and rapid scaling of electric vehicle volumes."
The company's Alabama plant will continue to build gasoline-powered versions of the GLE and GLS alongside the battery-electric variants. EV production will integrate into the plant's existing body and paint shop and assembly lines.