Usually what Ola Källenius, CEO of Mercedes-Benz, says is the bottom line. It was generally thought that the Mercedes G-Class, known as the Geländewagen, wouldn’t be produced much farther into the future. Then Källenius tweeted this in November, “There will be a zero-emission EV version of the Mercedes-Benz G-Class. In the past there were discussions whether we should eliminate the model, the way I see things now I’d say the last Mercedes to be built will be a G-Class.”
Some would say this is huge news. But SUV Communications Manager Christian Anosowitsch reminds us that Dr. Zetsche, former head of Mercedes until earlier this year, spoke in Detroit in 2018 that all Mercedes models would be electrified in the future. True, but no one expected that one of its future products would be the G-Class. Why does Källenius think of all of the significant, relevant Mercedes vehicles the G-Class will be the last one it will make?
Maybe a little G-Class background is in order to better understand
The first G-Class, or G-Wagen as it’s sometimes called, has been around since the late-1970s. It was intended to be used by the military, and it was. In fact, it was used by the US Marines in 2005 as desert patrol vehicles.
But, many countries use it for their military, too. A short list is Argentina, Canada, Egypt, France-with Peugeot engines, Mexico, North Korea, Russia, England, and Ukraine. Since it is almost completely hand built there are numerous bodies available including a pickup, van, double cab, and even a convertible with either fixed or folding windshield.
The G-Class was slated to end production before 2010
Manufactured in Austria in limited numbers prices start at about $125,000 for the G 500, and go up to $145,000 for the AMG 63 G version. Production was slated to end before 2010 but the G-Wagen received a reprieve and continued production. It was to be replaced by the GL-Class SUV in the mid-2000s. Instead, both are now built.
Whether due to its exclusivity, price, funky Jeep-like looks, or that it’s a Mercedes; it began to gain a following by movie stars and high-profile sports figures. With that came more visibility which increased interest and sales.
In 2018 an all-new G-Wagen was introduced, though it didn’t look like it varied much from the previous version. It’s actually longer, wider, and features an independent front suspension where the previous version was rigid. There’s also more ground clearance.
So, why would the G-Class be the last vehicle Mercedes would make?
Back to the original question; why it would be the last vehicle Mercedes would make? It might be for sentimentality. The G-Wagen has one of the longest production runs of any Mercedes. It might be for ease of production, though the 2018 version got more complicated with safety features and more electronics.
While it’s easy to appreciate the G-Wagen, it’s hard to understand how this could be the vehicle the CEO of Mercedes thinks would outlast all other models. But with the mandate that everything in the Mercedes portfolio be electrified, it comes as little surprise there will be an EV G-Wagen in the future.
Mercedes and possibly all of the European manufacturers are convinced electric vehicles are the future, and they are doubling down on the technology and development.