VANCE, Ala.— Industry analysts warn that shifting from fossil fuel to battery power threatens thousands of vehicle assembly plant jobs.
The logic is that electric vehicles with fewer parts will require less time and and a smaller work force to put together.
But in the early days of this transformation, that's proving untrue at Mercedes-Benz's manufacturing hub in Vance, which delivers most of the global output of the EQS and EQE electric light trucks.
"We heard so many discussions in the past where folks were scared this move into the electric future [would] cost thousands" of jobs, said Michael Göbel, CEO of Mercedes-Benz U.S. International, which operates the 6,300-employee Alabama factory.
"At least in the final assembly, we don't see that right now," Göbel told Automotive News on the sidelines of a media event here Monday. "There is really not a big difference in build time."
He said building an EV is not a "radical change" from assembling a combustion engine vehicle.
"The basics about screwing, or clipping, or gluing are the same processes," he said.
The most significant change is producing the key component that powers the electric vehicle — the battery pack.
"We are talking about tolerances and accuracies we are usually not used to in car manufacturing," Göbel said.