Mercedes-Benz Has Big Plans for Small Cars
By Harald Hamprecht Europe
Breaking outside its American
position of rear-wheel-drive luxury vehicles, Mercedes-Benz will launch its new front-wheel-drive architecture in the United States in the next three years in the form of a coupe, SUV and possibly a small wagon or compact hatchback.
Joachim Schmidt, Mercedes' global sales and marketing boss, said Mercedes is developing at least four models based on its MFA, or Mercedes Front-wheel-drive Architecture.
"We will introduce the next generation of our MFA family to the U.S.," Schmidt said in an interview. Two variants, maybe even a third, are planned for the United States, he said. The coupe will be launched in the United States in the summer of 2013. Mercedes insiders call it a "baby CLS" because it will have similar styling to the brand's larger CLS coupe-styled four-door model. An AMG version will arrive in Europe later and is expected to be sold in the United States.
An SUV intended to be a rival to the BMW X1 will follow in the summer of 2014. Both variants will go on sale in Europe three to five months before their U.S. launch.
In Europe, Mercedes will launch the next-generation B-class hatchback at year end and the A-class hatchback in the summer of 2012.
Mercedes has no plans for U.S. sales of those front-drive variants but could do so if it sees demand.
A Mercedes source said: "The U.S. is not the typical compact hatchback market, but if the demand arises we could react very quickly and introduce these two variants in the U.S. far quicker than in the past."
Schmidt said a fifth variant based on the front-drive architecture is being discussed for the United States and Europe. The Mercedes source said a small wagon has the best chance to be approved for production. A decision is due this fall.
Schmidt also said:
- Mercedes' new alliance partner, Renault-Nissan, is interested in using the front-drive architecture for an entry-level model for Nissan's Infiniti brand that would be sold in the United States, Infiniti's biggest market. Schmidt said Daimler is in talks with Nissan, but there are "no decisions so far."
- Daimler will strengthen its U.S. diesel offerings. It plans to position its S class flagship as the most fuel-efficient luxury sedan on the market by launching the six-cylinder diesel Mercedes S350 BlueTec in several months. Schmidt said a C class with a four-cylinder diesel will follow "in the midterm."
Company sources expect the car could come as early as next year.
Content provided by AutoWeek.
They're not a budget-minded company like hyundai and therefore will only draw business from people that feel the need to be drive a car based on its badge.Fall prey to marketing, did you? In Europe, Mercedes is just another brand, like Chevy is over here.
No offense intended but I'd find it hard to believe that any Mercedes owner would down grade to a Hyundai, Honda or Nissan, after owning a Mercedes. Typically, the individuals who can afford a Mercedes will purchase another "luxury" brand, which could include Infiniti (Luxury of Nissan) or Acura (Luxury of Honda) but I'd highly doubt to see anyone making the plunge down to a Hyundai.
That being said, the more electronic devices you have in your vehicle, the more it will cost to repair it. A few individuals have pointed this out on the forums, that they prefer simple and basic vehicle options/comforts. If Mercedes wants, they will be a very aggressive player in the entry level market but the question will be, do they want to be in it that badly? By making a Mercedes more accessible, they may tarnish their "luxurious" market image but it could have the exact opposite effect and simply draw in customers at an early age and to build a return customer.
The best thing out of this is, "Daimler will strengthen its U.S. diesel offerings".
This will lead to further dilution of the Mercedes brand image, which they started in the late 90s with their poor quality controls, and furthered by releasing their Mercedes Sprinter vans here.
This is akin to what Jaguar did when it produced the X-type/Mondeo. Don't make a budget Mercedes-Renault combo car, it's ridiculous.
The note in the article about Renault-Nissan being interested in an entry level Infiniti, that is a complete oxymoron. The Nissan line is the entry level Infiniti and would seem to compete against the performance-luxury image they have been crafting in this market. Much in the same manner a small compact M-B goes against their style/image in this US market.
I don't know - the A-class has gone from being a little car only the British could love to a much better constructed car in its latest iteration. The number of A120 models is catching up to the A180 and A200, showing the bargain buyers like it, too. And the B class, which never seemed to be on the road in great numbers, seems to me to be more frequently seen as well.
I'm not sure there's a reason to try to sell the A class in the USA until either it changes, or tastes here change a bit. But the B is just that little bit more sophisticated looking, though still having the mini-minivan look, that it might do OK, but pricing it might be a problem.
I will never buy a front wheel drive Mercedes! Period. MFA is disturbing to me. Another automobile ruined for the sake of cheap. Mercedes should sell their E320 with the 2.2L diesel like they do in Europe. They are very disdainful of Americans that buy cars with big engines. They don't even offer the small engine models in America. Talk about self-fulfilled profecies!
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