Few automakers have added more new models in shorter order than Mercedes-Benz, the German company take aim at virtually every possible market niche.
But Mercedes officials think there’s still a few gaps in the line-up, notably at the lower end of the spectrum, and that means we could see a sizable increase in compact and smaller offerings, though not all the additions will make it across the Atlantic.
“Our compact car family will grow from five to eight members in the near future,” said Britta Seeger, the board member who was recently appointed head of Mercedes-Benz global marketing and sales, during an appearance at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
(Live from Detroit! Click Here for our complete coverage of the North American International Auto Show.)
Seeger and other Mercedes executives declined to go into detail about their plans, but several spoke on background about what could be in store.
The current line-up includes products like the Mercedes A- and B-Class models, as well as the CLA coupe-like sedan and the compact GLA crossover. All share the same basic architecture, a flexible platform designed to allow the carmaker to add any number of additional “top hats,” or body styles. The architecture also the ability to be stretched or shrunk, widened or raised.
(The architecture is also being shared by alliance partner Nissan for various near-luxury models sold through its Infiniti brand.)
(Mercedes Teases 2018 E-Class Coupe debuting in Detroit.)
Not all the existing compact models are shipped to the U.S. The A-Class is absent, while the Mercedes B-Class is offered only in battery-electric form in California. Don’t expect to see them come to the States anytime soon.
More likely, American motorists will see new spin-offs of the coupe-like CLA, which created a sensation when it arrived in showrooms in 2014. Among the possible variants being considered are a more traditional sedan version, as well as the “shooting brake” – essentially a CLA wagon — now offered in Europe and other parts of the world.
But it wouldn’t be surprising to see Mercedes ad some new crossover-utility options considering current market trends. Nowhere is that more obvious than in the U.S., where light trucks – especially utes – now account for almost two-thirds of new vehicle sales.
From top to bottom, Mercedes has become more and more of a truck brand with models ranging from the GLA to the big G-wagen.
But the smaller model has been a particularly successful addition, with a full 55% of its buyers new to the Mercedes-Benz brand, said Dietmar Exler, CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA.
“Our brand strategy is working,” he said during the Sunday unveiling of a mid-cycle refresh of the GLA. “Get them into the brand early and keep them for life.”
Clearly, Mercedes is betting it can bring in even more first-time buyers by expanding its compact line-up in the near future.
(For more on the 2018 Mercedes-Benz GLA, Click Here.)