What 600 Million USD buys

Mercedes' big-time lineup Sunday, May 01, 2005
VANCE -- Mercedes-Benz's $600 million project to build a second assembly line at its Alabama plant was a massive undertaking.
Consider what went into the line being unveiled Tuesday for auto journalists from around the world:
Enough steel was used to build two copies of the 984-foot Eiffel Tower, with enough left over to build a half-size version. Advertisement
Enough concrete was poured to pave 11 miles of four-lane interstate.
Workers moved enough dirt from the site to fill the new 1.9-million-square-foot plant building.
Fifty football fields would fit under the roof of the plant.
Mercedes says 120 contractors with 2,500 workers were on the site at the peak of construction. The project consumed 5.2 million manhours.
The project also made Mercedes more high-tech. The factory complex now has about 700 robots, up from 70 on the original line. Supervisors are using a new hand-held computer system to keep tabs on production and quality issues.
Mercedes now has 3,800 workers and is on the way to 4,000 by year's end. The new assembly line is producing more than 100 vehicles per day on one shift, with a second shift planned. The new line has already turned out more than 10,000 vehicles.
At full tilt, Mercedes' two assembly lines will produce 160,000 M-Class sport utilities and R-Class crossovers each year.
Expectations are that Mercedes will add a third model - a larger SUV to be dubbed the G-Class - to the lines in Vance.
Michael Tomberlin --
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