Donated Mercedes SUVs Add Power to Automotive Training Programs

VANCE, Alabama – As Mercedes-Benz US International continues to expand its $ 6 billion auto assembly business in Alabama, the company is also investing in schools and training programs across the state, including rural counties.

In turn, schools and training programs help fill the automaker’s labor pool, a crucial part of its strategy to start producing electric vehicles – and the batteries that power them – in Alabama next year.

Mercedes recently announced the donation of 15 of its luxury SUVs, with a combined value of over $ 700,000, to support workforce training.

Most GLE SUVs, all produced at the Tuscaloosa County plant, were previously used as test vehicles and cannot be sold or driven on public roads. But they can be used as classroom tools.

Mercedes donates the vehicles to automotive technology training programs in Bibb, Blount, Cullman, Fayette, Hale, Pickens, Shelby, Tuscaloosa, Walker and Winston counties, as well as Wallace State Community College and Lawson State Community College.

MBUSI President and CEO Michael Göbel said donating vehicles to Alabama schools helps bridge the gap between the classroom and career preparation.

“We found a sustainable solution to reuse the vehicles – which would have been destroyed at the end of their test cycle – and instead diverted them for educational purposes,” he said.

“These schools provide hands-on training and help automakers develop a future workforce that will help us make sustainable vehicle production a reality.”


To date, the company has donated more than 40 vehicles to area high schools that serve as feeders for two-year colleges.

Many of these schools are in rural Alabama, said Steve Colburn, human resources specialist at MBUSI. He travels to high schools statewide to visit students, discuss career opportunities, and promote the Mercedes TECH program which offers an associate’s degree in advanced automotive technology.

“The other day I did a presentation at Hubbertville High School in Fayette County and there are a few senior students who have applied to the Mercedes TECH program for fall 2022,” Colburn said.

“There are several rural high schools that are very important to the success of our program and the success of our plant. “

Colburn said MBUSI is committed to releasing vehicles and other technology to the community when it becomes available, especially for schools with automotive technology programs in place.

“We want these vehicles to be used and for the students to really learn the technical aspects of our SUVs,” he said.


Some of the donated vehicles are for the Modern Manufacturing Center of Excellence program run by West Alabama Works, which coordinates workforce services in Bibb, Fayette, Greene, Hale, Lamar, Marengo, Pickens, Sumter and Tuscaloosa counties. .

The program is located at schools in four regions of Alabama, one for each of the automakers that operate in the state, including Mercedes, Honda, Hyundai and the Mazda-Toyota partnership, said Donny Jones, executive director of West Alabama Works and Chief Operating Officer. member of the Western Alabama Chamber of Commerce.

In western Alabama alone, seven schools have launched the program, which prepares students for entry-level manufacturing careers with automakers in the state. More schools in the western Alabama region and in the other three regions surrounding other automakers are expected to launch the program next year.

Jones said many schools are in rural counties and each region works closely with the neighboring automaker.

“The automakers are involved in what is taught,” he said. “This is a business and industry initiative in partnership with K-12 and post-secondary education. “

Rolf Wrona, vice president of human resources at MBUSI, said the company is focused on engaging students in manufacturing and technology.

“Our Mercedes-Benz SUVs will allow us to bring technology to students,” he said.

Read about the MBUSI hiring campaign.

(Courtesy of Made in Alabama)

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