Twenty years ago this month, the first customer-ready M-Class SUVs began rolling off the Mercedes-Benz auto assembly line in Tuscaloosa County, launching new eras for both the automaker and the state of Alabama.
For Mercedes, the M-Class was the first mass-market SUV, and its success helped spin off a full range of similar models for the premium German automaker while also influencing the offerings from competitors.
For Alabama, the start of M-Class production was also the start of the modern auto industry. Minivans, sedans, pickups and more SUVs have followed, as Honda, Hyundai, Toyota and hundreds of suppliers set up shop in the state.
“In the 20 years since Mercedes began producing vehicles in Alabama, our partnership with the company has grown stronger today than ever before,” Gov. Robert Bentley said.