Mercedes started the production of its refreshed GLS image

Mercedes-Benz said that its US plant in Tuscaloosa has started the production of the new GLS flagship sport utility vehicle.

The beginning of the year could not have been better for Mercedes-Benz, as the company emerges as the leader of January global sales, overpassing its archenemies Audi and BMW. If the three-pointed star brand reported a 20 percent surge in last month’ sales, the demand for its SUVs models was clearly the main factor behind this growth. After Mercedes-Benz renewed almost its entire range of SUVs last year, January sales of these large models were 62.5 percent higher than in the prior-year month and rose to a new record of 53,966 units.

And the refreshed GLS, the “S Class” among SUVs, is part of brand’s soldiers this year in the fight for the luxury crown. It had its world premiere at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November 2015 and the production has just started, Daimler said in a statement, with first deliveries being scheduled for March. The revised GLS is built on one assembly line alongside the GLE and the GLE Coupé at automaker’s Tuscaloosa, Alabama, plant, a factory that started operating in 1995 as the first major passenger car facility of Mercedes-Benz outside Germany.

In 2015, Tuscaloosa built more than 303,000 vehicles – an all-time record for the plant, which celebrates 20 years of production in early 2016. Daimler announced last year a 1.3 billion-dollar investment at its US plant to boost production of Mercedes-Benz sport utility vehicles, also creating some additional 300 jobs.