The first Mishawaka-made Mercedes rolled off the production line today.
It was cause for celebration at an AM General plant that was originally built to manufacture the now-defunct civilian Hummer.
“We’re not focused on the past; we’re looking at where we’re bringing this company in the future. We think we’re in position for real growth and that Mercedes and the MV1 is just the beginning of growth for this company and for our people,” said Howard Glaser, AM General’s Commercial Business President.
When production of the civilian Hummer ended around 2010, some wondered if commercial production at AM General would end too.
The reason the assembly line finally finds itself ‘humming’ once again sounds too strange to be true.
“You couldn’t have made this up a few years ago. If you told people they wouldn’t believe it. We’re going to make German engineered cars in Indiana exclusively for export to China, we’re selling things there and not buying from them, and that’s a great step forward,” said Howard Glaser.
Today, seeing was believing and a lot of people came to look as the first Mishawaka made Mercedes R class 320 rolled off the assembly line. The vehicles will only be sold in China.
“To see this facility filled with workers, and to see cars coming off the production line one after another, the highest quality vehicle, some of the best workers in the world, none better, right here in our own back yard in northern Indiana,” said U.S. Senator Joseph Donnelly, (D) Indiana.
“I want to congratulate both AM General and Mercedes-Benz on the rollout of the R class vehicle at this extraordinary assembly plant,” said U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski, (R) Indiana’s Second District.
Some 200 assembly line positions have been added here now that AM General is building a new car and building a new future for its civilian operations.
And it’s not just any car—it’s a Mercedes.
“This is the first time a foreign carmaker has utilized an American owned manufacturer to build their vehicles and for it to be Mercedes, which is the gold standard in automotive engineering, is just a great validation of the work that our workers do here at AM General,” said Howard Glaser.
“I’m pressure sure Mercedes probably checked out the company, looked at our tradition. For them, I mean, they’re big on tradition I believe,” said AM General worker Lamar Ashford.
The commercial comeback comes as Ashford enters his 14th year with a company that somehow, someway managed to adjust to the changing times without losing its core identity.
“My dad, 28 years, and my mom, 26 years, both retired. They both worked next door at the military plant and soon as I turned 18, this building started up, the H-2, the ground was still dirt when I knew about it. I put my resume in,” said Lamar Ashford.
AM General is also a company that has the oldest UAW local in the country (UAW Local 5).
AM General is also building a handicapped accessible taxi at its Mishawaka commercial plant called the MV-1.
Between the taxi and the Mercedes, the total workforce there stands at about 400.