Over the next four years, a steady stream of Mercedes-Benz employees from around the world will visit Birmingham to participate in Mercedes new “Brand Immersion Experience.”
The two-day three-night experience will take employees to the Tuscaloosa County plant where they will visit the Mercedes museum, tourist center and manufacturing space. The employees will have an opportunity to drive the cars and see “where the cars are born,” said Gareth Joyce, vice president of customer service for Mercedes Benz USA at a plant tour on Friday.
Mercedes-Benz 2015 C-Class test drive and plant tour
VANCE, Alabama — Mercedes-Benz C-Class by by MBUSI in Vance Alabama. Media from around the world were invited to the Vance assembly plant for a test drive, tour of the assembly line and panel discussion with Dr. Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars. (Joe Songerfirstname.lastname@example.org).
Approximately 26,000 Mercedes employees will fly into Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport for the experience and will be bussed to the plant daily. The employees will be staying in Birmingham hotels and dining in Birmingham restaurants as part of the program, Joyce explained.
“We are excited to work with Mercedes to host these employees over the next few years,” said Birmingham Mayor William Bell. “Our efforts to attract visitors and tourists from around the world to give them an opportunity to learn about Birmingham’s historic legacy and spend time and money in the city is starting to pay off. We look forward to this being the first of many large groups and conventions to frequent the city.”
The program, which will start pilot testing at the end of September, is estimated to cost approximately $30 million over the course of the next four years. The program will begin in earnest before the end of 2014. Two groups of employees will come through the program each week, and approximately 70 groups will go through the program each year.
“The only time we’ll pause is during the big football matches,” Joyce said.
The Brand Immersion Program was announced on Friday along with expansion plans for the facility. Mercedes-Benz will have the capacity to manufacture 300,000 cars per year at its Tuscaloosa County plant by 2015, up from a record 185,000 in 2013. In July, Mercedes announced the manufacture of its 2 millionth vehicle.
Mercedes also announced that an SUV similar to the Concept Coupe SUV announced in April will be manufactured at the Tuscaloosa plant starting in 2015 and will be called the “ML Coupe.” The car will be the fifth model built at the Tuscaloosa plant, along with the new C-Class Coupe, the M-Class, the GL-Class SUV and the R-Class crossover.
Although right now the Brand Immersion Experience is only budgeted for the next few years, Joyce said the program could be extended indefinitely if all goes well.
“I see the potential to make this an evergreen program,” Joyce said. “With the rate at which the brand is growing, I can see continuing to use this as a development platform into the future.”
Joyce said that Mercedes is always looking for creative ways to give both employees and customers a more complete experience.
“We are always in pursuit of the complete package,” he said, adding that an immersion at the Tuscaloosa facility would enable employees to get a better feel for the Mercedes brand, thus enabling them to serve Mercedes customers better in future.
Employees who attend the Brand Immersion Experience will be on a “journey” through Mercedes history (via the museum) and future (via the plant), Joyce explained.
“They’re going to learn about performance, safety, heritage, and what we’re doing in Alabama. It’s exciting,” he said. See http://www.al.com/business/index.ssf/2014/09/tourist_dollars_and_fancy_cars.html#incart_river