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Mercedes’ Alabama plant could go all-electric

VANCE, Ala. — Mercedes-Benz’s US assembly plant, which has been building gasoline-powered trucks for 25 years, could switch to all-electric vehicle production as early as 2025, the luxury brand’s global production chief Jörg Burzer told Automotive News Thursday.

It’s a bold bet on EV adoption in the US and worldwide.

On Thursday, Mercedes’ more than 6-million-square-foot factory in Vance, Ala., celebrated the start of production of the plant’s first electric model — the battery-powered version of Mercedes’ flagship GLS.

The EQS full-size SUV is the first of two EVs initially planned for the factory, and will roll into US stores in the fall. Early next year, the plant will also begin producing the EQE, the electric version of Mercedes’ top-selling GLE midsize crossover, Burzer said.

Vance will supply EQEs to all markets except China, pumping out more than 100,000 EVs next year, a third of its annual capacity of 305,000.

Much is riding on the Alabama plant as Mercedes pivots into an all-electric brand around the world in markets that are ready for the switch.

It launched its all-electric EQ subbrand with the debut of a battery-powered S-Class sedan last fall.

The US-built EQS SUV will be joined in the lineup this year by the EQB compact crossover and the EQE midsize sedan. Next year, the portfolio gets expanded with the arrival of the EQE midsize crossover.

The automaker is still deciding on future EV sourcing plans, but Burzer said it is possible that the Alabama plant could become the company’s first all-electric factory.

Mercedes expects EVs to account for about half of its US sales by 2030, executives revealed at the brand’s national dealer meeting earlier this year. And next year, Mercedes aims to sell up to 45,000 EQ-brand electric vehicles here.