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Maybach Makes an Unexpected Return

How a once-abandoned brand name came back to life.

by on Nov.20, 2014

Mercedes-Benz introduced its ultra-exclusive S600 in Los Angeles yesterday with a bit of a surprise: it's the Mercedes-Maybach S600.

It is Los Angeles, so there’s always an opportunity to reinvent yourself. Just ask Mercedes-Benz which used the L.A. Auto Show this week to unexpectedly bring the once-abandoned Maybach brand name back to life.

Named for Wilhelm Maybach, a partner of Daimler AG founder Gottfried Daimler, the Maybach name graced a line of ultra-exclusive automobiles, such as the Maybach M57. But in 2011 slow sales led the company to announce it would kill off the brand.

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Mercedes wasn’t about to abandon the market’s most elite buyers, though. It planned a stretched and upgraded version of the elite S-Class, which was originally set to be called the Mercedes-Benz S600 Pullman. But in a surprise move, it has decided to call the new model the Mercedes-Maybach S600. (more…)

Mercedes-Benz Has Most Satisfied Shoppers, Says JD Power

Explaining high-tech features critical to increasing shopper satisfaction.

by on Nov.13, 2014

Automakers providing new vehicle buyers with assistance in the use of new technology in their vehicles are seeing customer satisfaction scores rise.

Motorists have come to expect the latest high-tech features in the cars they buy. Ironically, that’s also a frequent cause of customer frustration, buyers struggling to figure out how to pair a phone or plug in a destination.

Manufacturers that hope to keep customers happy – and loyal – need to ensure that product specialists spend time at the showroom explaining how to make that technology work, according to a new study by J.D. Power and Associates. Having the right staff on hand is one of the key reasons why Mercedes-Benz topped Power’s latest Sales Satisfaction Index, or SSI.

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“With such tech-heavy vehicles today, introducing product specialists into the sales process helps improve the delivery process and customer understanding of how to operate key features,” explained Chris Sutton, vice president of the automotive retail practice at J.D. Power. (more…)

BMW, Mercedes Slugging It Out for Sales Title

Duel over luxury crown headed for photo finish.

by on Nov.11, 2014

BMW is holding a slim lead over rival Mercedes-Benz in the U.S. luxury market.

BMW and Mercedes-Benz are locked in a battle royal for the sales crown in the prosperous market for luxury cars in the U.S. BMW held the title for the two previous years, but one of the two has been the leader since 2011: the last year Lexus held the crown.

“One of the noteworthy facts in the October U.S. new vehicle sales results is that BMW now leads its archrival Mercedes-Benz by just 5,389 sales through the first ten months of this year,” IHS Automotive Analyst Tom Libby said.

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“With such a small gap in sales through 10 months, the two makes will most likely use marketing tools extensively through the end of the year, including numerous types of incentives, to gain an edge.” (more…)

Mercedes Opts for Order in its Alphabet Soup Model Nomenclature

Return of the Maybach.

by on Nov.11, 2014

Mercedes announced it is bringing back the Maybach. The maker is also going to clean up the alphabet soup that is its naming system.

If you have a hard time telling an S from an E, or an ML from a GL, you’re not alone. With all the new models it has added in recent years – and more coming at the rate of about one per quarter – the names used for the various members of the Mercedes-Benz line-up have become increasingly confusing.

Now, the German maker wants to impose some order on its world and is rolling out a new nomenclature strategy that it says should be a good bit easier to understand – though it could add still more confusion in the short-term as the GLK becomes the GLC and the ML becomes the GLE.

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Mercedes also delivered a surprise by announcing it is bringing back the Maybach name it seemed to have abandoned for good just a couple years ago. It’s new super-premium models will now carry the designation Mercedes-Maybach, while its highest performance offerings will be dubbed Mercedes-AMG. (more…)

Mission Metris: Mercedes Shows Options for New, Midsize Van at SEMA Show

German maker brings four concepts to Las Vegas.

by on Nov.04, 2014

Mercedes brought its DJ van, developed in partnership with RENNtech, to SEMA.

With the upcoming launch of its new Metris model, Mercedes-Benz becomes the latest maker to enter the growing U.S. midsize van market. And to give potential buyers a sense of the flexibility designed into the Metris, the German maker is showcasing four projects vans at this week’s SEMA show in Las Vegas.

The American version of the global Mercedes Vito van which go on sale about a year from now, giving customers some time to think about all the possible variations, including those “Mission Metris” concepts ranging from a small fire truck to a DJ van.

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“It is only logical that we take a global approach and also expand our successful vans business in the USA,” said Bernie Glaser, the executive who oversees sales in the American market of the new Metris and other Mercedes vans, such as the big Sprinter. (more…)

This Mercedes Concept Designed to SUC

Hydrogen-powered sport-utility coupe concept uses solar cell paint.

by on Nov.04, 2014

Mercedes newest concept is designed to SUC. Well, it's a sport-utility coupe, or SUC, according to the maker.

When Mercedes-Benz lifted the covers on its G-Code concept in Beijing yesterday, the German maker said it was intentionally designed to SUC.

This new sport-utility coupe (SUC) “study” is the debut work of the new Mercedes-Benz Product Engineering Center in the Chinese capital – one of five such facilities around the world intended to serve as “seismographs,” the maker suggests, for “market-specific developments.” And the G-Code concept offers a hint of the trends the maker sees coming in China.

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With its endemic pollution problems, the central government is pushing for zero-emission vehicle technology, but rather than going to a solely battery-electric design, the G-Code uses a combination of hydrogen and electric power – and helps create its own hydrogen by tapping the sun’s energy collected by a unique solar cell paint. (more…)

Honda, Daimler Make Major Forays into Zero Emissions Energy Sourcing

Daimler backing hydrogen, Honda putting its money into solar power.

by on Oct.08, 2014

A Mercedes-Benz fuel-cell vehicle protoype with a Linde hydrogen gas tanker.

Facing increasingly stringent emissions and fuel economy mandates around the world, automakers are looking for clean alternatives, such as electrification and hydrogen. But making the switch isn’t as easy as coming up with a long-range battery or an affordable fuel cell. It also means making available to the public ways to “fill up” with clean sources of energy.

Both Honda and Daimler AG today announced plans to invest millions of dollars in sustainable energy – on top of what they’re already spending to develop clean powertrain technologies. Honda is partnering with U.S. based solar energy company solar city. Daimler, the parent of Mercedes-Benz, is, meanwhile, teaming up with Germany’s Linde Group to set up a network of hydrogen fueling stations.

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“There is no question that fuel-cell technology is reaching maturity,” explains Herbert Kohler, Vice President Group Research & Sustainability and Chief Environmental Officer at Daimler AG. “From 2017, we are planning to bring competitively priced fuel-cell vehicles to market. So now is the time to build a nationwide fuelling infrastructure.”

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Mercedes-Benz Expands California Driverless Car Testing

German maker using naval base to develop technology.

by on Oct.01, 2014

Mercedes secured an autonomous vehicle testing permit in California. It also plans to conduct much of its U.S. testing at a secure facility in southern California.

The Germans are coming! The Germans are coming! Well, actually, they’ve been approved to be here and in California, specifically. Mercedes-Benz is the second automaker – after Audi – to get approved for autonomous vehicle testing in The Golden State.

California has allowed limited use of its roads for automated vehicle testing in recent years, but the laws approved by the state legislature in mid-September were established in 2012 by Gov. Jerry Brown.

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Actually, the maker has been testing on public roads for much of September, but the company now has secured the use of the Concord Naval Weapons Station (CNWS) in southern California to test much of its future technology. (more…)

Mercedes Hopes GLA Will Tap into Booming Compact Crossover Market

German maker with find plenty of competition in segment.

by on Sep.29, 2014

Mercedes expects the new GLA to duplicate the success of its CLA sedan, which is a hot seller.

Barely a year after launching its new CLA coupe-like sedan, Mercedes-Benz has sold more than 30,000 to U.S. buyers and, the maker claims, probably would be doing twice that volume if it could get more from its new factory in Hungary.

No wonder the maker’s senior executives are positively jumping for joy as the even newer Mercedes-Benz GLA heads for U.S. showrooms. “The segment is potentially three times as large,” suggested communications chief Rob Moran, during a media drive of the new crossover-utility vehicle in Vermont.

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Crossovers are already beginning to outsell conventional sedans in the U.S. market, and most analysts anticipate the same thing is about to happen in the compact luxury segment. That’s spurring a flood of new offerings, the GLA just one of the latest to join such alternatives as the BMW X1. (more…)

First Drive: 2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA

Compact crossover among best in crowded segment.

by on Sep.29, 2014

The new GLA is the fifth - and smallest - crossover/ute in the Mercedes family.

What a difference one little letter can make. In many ways, the new Mercedes-Benz CLA and GLA models are a lot alike, starting out with the German maker’s basic small car platform. But there are also a surprising number of ways the two models diverge.

The CLA is the compact, coupe-like sedan that Mercedes launched last year, quickly becoming one of the maker’s most successful products ever, demand so far well exceeding supply. The new Mercedes-Benz GLA adopts a more hatchback-style crossover body style that targets an even larger segment of the luxury market.

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But the differences are even more substantial, as we learned during several days of driving the new GLA through northern Vermont just as the leaves began to turn their autumn colors. The year-long delay in bringing the crossover to market appears to have given Mercedes engineers the time they needed to address earlier complaints about the coupe-like CLA’s ride and handling. (more…)