The investment announcement was made during the Tuscaloosa based plant’s 20th anniversary celebration on September 21. Daimler plans to produce EQ-branded SUV models at MBUSI (Mercedes-Benz U.S. International); its Tuscaloosa, Alabama facility. The EQ models are to feature the latest status of automated driving and, in addition, a battery plant will also be built near the existing passenger-car plant “ensuring availability of cutting-edge technology for future generations of Mercedes-Benz vehicles built in the U.S.”

In total, Mercedes-Benz says it plans to invest US$1 billion in the expansion of its industrial footprint in the region, most of which is slated for the electric initiative, and expects to create over 600 additional jobs.

In addition to the electric initiative, the automaker says the logistics activities in the U.S. will be expanded with a new Global Logistics Centre and a new after-sales North American hub, exporting car-kits to global assembly plants and spare parts from the U.S. and North America to worldwide markets. The Tuscaloosa plant exclusively provides worldwide clients with the SUV models GLE, GLS and GLE Coupé. “With the additional integration of electric vehicles, the plant is shaping the future of electric mobility worldwide”, said Daimler in a statement.

Tuscaloosa is home to Mercedes-Benz’s SUV production for the world market, having started production of the former M-Class (today the GLE) in 1997. Mercedes-Benz exports more than 70% of its SUVs to markets around the globe. With an earlier investment of US$1.3 billion announced in 2015, the plant is currently being expanded to prepare for the production of the next SUV generation including plug-in hybrid models. The plant expansion comprises a new Body Shop, major enhancements to the SUV Assembly Shop as well as upgraded logistics and IT systems.

The company aims to electrify the entire portfolio of Mercedes by 2022, offering customers at least one electrified alternative in all segments from smart to large SUVs, and plans to offer more than 50 electrified vehicle variants.