Mercedes-Benz to restart idled Alabama SUV plant April 27

Christoph Rauwald and Gabrielle Coppola

Daimler AG plans to resume U.S. production of Mercedes-Benz luxury SUVs at its factory in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, on April 27 as the German carmaker prepares to gradually ramp up output halted by the coronavirus pandemic.

“The company will continue operations in coordination with the respective authorities,” Daimler said Friday in an emailed statement. Appropriate precautions to prevent infections, including cleaning and equipment maintenance, will be taken to ensure the safety of workers, it said.

In this Sunday, April 5, 2020, photograph, a long row of unsold 2020 GLE 350 sports-utility vehicles sits at a Mercedes Benz dealership in Littleton, Colo.

The Alabama plant, which shut down on March 23, is slated to re-open at the same time as two Daimler factories in Germany, its Sindelfingen and Bremen facilities, after production resumes at three parts-making sites next week. The three vehicle-assembly factories produce key models including Mercedes’ flagship S-Class sedan, electric EQC and popular GLC and GLE SUVs.

Restoring global operations is a complex effort for auto manufacturers as infection levels and government restrictions to stop the virus from spreading further vary across regions. While demand in China has been picking up in recent weeks, the sales outlook in Europe and North America remains uncertain.

“Management is monitoring the situation constantly and will take further measures as may become necessary,” the company said in the statement.

Daimler also makes Mercedes brand vans at a plant in Charleston, South Carolina, which remains temporarily closed.