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Mercedes SUVs Are Piling Up at a German Airport

Sept. 4, 2019
Supply chain issues appear to plague Mercedez-Benz as thousands of their SUVs were spotted parked on an unused airstrip in Germany.

Daimler AG is storing thousands of cars at a former military airport in northern Germany, as the Mercedes-Benz maker faces supplier issues that are delaying deliveries of its revamped GLE sport utility vehicle to customers.

GLE SUVs and other models were lined up in blocks, some of which were 15 cars abreast and seven deep, stretching down the tarmac at the former Ahlhorn airport near the city of Bremen. The SUVs, which start at about $56,000, were made in the U.S. for European customers.

The company has issued four profit warnings in little more than a year, most recently in July, when the company included a “slower model ramp-up” as one of the reasons for cutting its full-year guidance. At that time, Chief Executive Officer Ola Kallenius highlighted issues with the company’s SUVs on a quarterly earnings call. Problems with a supplier in the U.S. caused production bottlenecks, Kallenius said at the time.

Daimler rose 2.1% to 43.93 euros at 9:49 a.m. in Frankfurt trading, trimming losses this year to 4.3%. Carmakers are under pressure from slowing markets globally.

A Daimler spokeswoman detailed supplier problems after the simultaneous launch of the revamped GLE in several markets and a jump in output at the plant, leading to delays in getting the cars to customers. Demand for the vehicles remained strong, she said. Mercedes uses storage sites around the world to temporarily park cars, such as when they await shipment. This includes the former Ahlhorn airport that’s currently used for a range of Mercedes models, she said.

“The temporary storage of vehicles is a completely normal process,” the spokeswoman said in an emailed statement.

This isn’t the first time a German carmaker has had to park inventory at an airport. Volkswagen AG leased thousands of spots at Berlin’s unfinished Brandenburg airport as the carmaker rushed to approve cars before the start of new emissions rules.

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