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Mercedes-Benz celebrates 20 years producing cars in Alabama

The first customer-ready M-Class rolled off the assembly line on Valentine\'s Day 1997.

Mercedes-Benz is celebrating 20 years of production at its factory in Tuscaloosa County, Alabama.

The first customer-ready M-Class rolled off the assembly line on Valentine's Day 1997. The SUV was unveiled to the public for the first time a few months later at the plant's grand opening celebration.

The automaker highlights the Alabama facility as its first major assembly plant outside Germany. It now builds the GLE, GLE Coupe and GLS crossovers for the global market and the C-Class for North America.

The factory produced more than 300,000 vehicles last year, up from around 68,000 in its first full year of production. Combining all 20 years, it has produced more than 2.5 million units.

Mercedes-Benz claims the plant achieves an annual economy impact of more than $1.5 billion. The company has invested more than $4.5 billion in the state so far, with a $1.3 billion expansion currently underway.

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