Car Industry News

Mercedes-Benz USA is Moving to Atlanta

The German Automaker Diamler Benz, Mercedes-Benz USA, is moving from its 40 year old suburban New Jersey headquarters just outside of New York, to its new home in Atlanta, Georgia.   The company had been considering various southern locations for some time.  Mercedes executives worked for about five months before narrowing it to the three finalists and visited all three. Executives conducted extensive research, even looking at potential homes where their employees would live in those three cities.

After those visits, they made the unanimous decision for Atlanta. The head of Daimler Benz, Steve Cannon, went to Germany and met with the Daimler board just after Thanksgiving, after looking at prospective locations in Raleigh, NC and Dallas, TX, met with the Board in Germany to get the preliminary approval to move the headquarters to Atlanta, before the final negotiation agreements. “We got the green light because this move is where the country is migrating,' said Cannon.

“There is a population migration, not just a company migration from north to south. That’s why cities like Houston and Dallas, San Antonio, Austin and Atlanta are growth cities. That's why MB made a 50-year-decision, looking down the road, to put them closer vs farther away from our customers.

MB, leaving their 40-year-headquarters in Montvale, N.J. marks the latest in a series of moves by foreign automakers. Earlier this year, Toyota Motor Corp. announced it's moving its U.S. unit corporate headquarters from Torrance, Calif., to Plano, Texas. Nissan Motor Co. in 2005 moved its North American headquarters from Gardena, Calif., to the Nashville, Tenn., area.

The announcement is undoubtedly a blow to New Jersey, especially the residents of Montvale, the center of Mercedes-Benz's U.S. operations for some 50 years. However,  the move to Georgia makes sense for many reasons, including Atlanta's proximity to Mercedes-Benz U.S. International, the company's manufacturing facility that sits a short drive away in Tuscaloosa, Alabama One other big factor in the final selection being Georgia, was that Atlanta has a 20-25% lower cost of living. And the population migration to the South just makes sense.  Furthermore, Atlanta has an increasingly large pool of auto industry workers, thanks to companies like Porsche that have put down roots there. The move will also put Mercedes in closer contact with the entire growing Southern market.

And not least of all, Georgia is a right-to-work state, which gives unions less power. Some of those factors are reiterated by Stephen Cannon, President and CEO of MBUSA: 

"Atlanta is a premier city which places us closer to our ever-growing Southeast customer base, our port in Brunswick, Georgia, and to Mercedes-Benz U.S. International, our Alabama manufacturing facility, which accounts for half of the vehicles we sell here in the U.S.  For our employees, Atlanta offers a strong quality of life, terrific schools and wonderful cultural and recreational opportunities."

Unlike Toyota, which expects a long, drawn-out move to its new headquarters in Plano, Texas, Mercedes-Benz's relocation is on the fast-track. Some employees will move to Atlanta as soon as July of this year, operating out of temporary facilities until a new campus is completed in early 2017. 

General Motors Co. is opening a new headquarters office for its struggling Cadillac in the opposite direction, to New York City.  They're moving 30 marketing and sales employees to Manhattan later this year.

The relocation deal is said to be worth about $60 million in tax breaks from the state of Georgia. MBUSA hasn't revealed the exact location of its new headquarters, but it's believed to be near Perimeter, very close to the home base of Porsche and Auto Trader.

Moving Mercedes-Benz headquarters to the south will move it closer to the company’s assembly plant in Vance, Ala., where it is building SUVs and its new C-Class.
This move is expected to affect 1,000 employees, though Mercedes says that it will maintain a presence in both Montvale and Robbinsville, New Jersey.

One thing's for sure, we in Atlanta aren't complaining.  We're happy to have this move take place.  We'll show them our southern hospitality along with our amenities and lower cost of living. We'll make 'em proud to be here!