North American production of the EQS has begun at Mercedes’ passenger vehicle plant in Alabama, with the German brand’s fully-electric SUV to be built exclusively in the United States.
Mercedes’ Tuscaloosa plant has been dedicated to the brand’s SUV production since 1997 – most recently rolling out the GLE and the GLS models, and with around 260,000 SUVs rolling off the line in 2021 alone – and will serve as the “key production location” for EQE and EQS SUVs moving forward.
The start of EQS production, just three weeks after sales officially began, also marks the latest step in Mercedes’ goal to produce eight all-electric vehicles at seven sites across three continents this year alone as the brand moves towards full electrification (specifically in larger markets where conditions allow this) by 2030.
“We have a highly skilled and motivated team that has absolutely delivered in the successful product launch of the new EQS SUV,” Mercedes US CEO Michael Goebel explains. Our team members in Tuscaloosa have shown a lot of flexibility, energy and commitment in helping us to achieve milestone after milestone since our first Mercedes-Benz rolled off the production line more than 25 years ago. The employees here at the site can be proud that the first all-electric SUV from Mercedes-Benz and its battery are being built in Alabama.”
Production of the EQS will be assisted by Mercedes’ new battery facility in Bibb County, based around 30 minutes from the Tuscaloosa plant. The EQS SUV is the third model on the ‘EQ’ range to be built atop Mercedes’ EV-dedicated ‘EVA2’ platform after the EQS and EQE sedans, though, interestingly, the EQS SUV is only the second of these three available with a 107.8 kWh battery packing 12 cell modules (the mid-sized EQE sedan runs on a smaller 10-cell, 90 kWh battery).
The estimated range on the entry level, rear-wheel drive, 265 kW EQS 450+ could therefore be as high as 660 km in North America, though this does dip slightly to between 507 and 613 km for the mid-range EQS 450 – also 265 kW but with a higher 590 lb-ft torque rating – and premium EQS 580 (400 kW, 858 Nm / 633 lb ft), both of which feature 4MATIC all-wheel drive as standard.
Both the Bibb County battery facility and the Tuscaloosa assembly plant also play a key role in Mercedes’ sustainability plans for production: each of Mercedes’ passenger vehicle and van plants worldwide will operate on a CO2 neutral basis, while the battery plant will run entirely through renewable energy sources from 2024 onwards.
Since its opening in the 1990s, Mercedes’ to-date has invested “more than seven billion dollars” into its Tuscaloosa plant, one-seventh of which was dedicated to the battery plant assembly and upgrading the production line for electric vehicles.