Mercedes-Benz dealers have got corporate’s ear. Mercedes was down last year behind BMW and the dealers are feeling the pinch. They want to see Mercedes “simplify” its vast lineup in the US in 2021. Jeff Swickard, Dealer Board chairman, says Mercedes is in the process of doing just that. He told Automotive News that things will be pared down by the end of 2022.
“The dealer board did ask for Mercedes to work on our product simplification initiative to reduce the number of model variants imported to the United States,” he said. “I feel like they took us really seriously, and they made a lot of changes we’ll see in 2021 and 2022. I think we’ll continue to see them simplify their product lineup.”
In 2021 Mercedes seems like it must appeal to all pocketbooks and chase all models
Mercedes seems like it must appeal to as many pocketbooks and chase as many model variants as possible. But do they all fit the image of a Mercedes? And is one model variant cannibalizing the next?
From what Swickard said it looks like Mercedes will hack the myriad of trims as opposed to models. It has already cut some coupes and convertibles as it shifts its focus toward electrification and autonomous platforms. We wouldn’t expect Mercedes to spill the beans on what its plans are. But we would expect to see some trimming soon.
“Consumer preference changes over time, and we’ve adjusted and are continuing to adjust to meet those demands,” Swickard said. He didn’t say what those details might be but admitted MBUSA has been listening to the dealers and reacting with “changes that make sense.”
In America, Mercedes feels that SUVs are the strongest market
At least in America Mercedes feels that SUVs are the strongest market. As other companies have seen, the shift is on to pare down coupes and sedans, the bread and butter of Mercedes, for SUVs and pickups. Though Mercedes hasn’t had any luck with making pickups and doesn’t sell one here, it has teamed up with Ford in a pickup co-venture.
While he said that all of the Mercedes models are “critical to our success,” he also added that having a range of SUVs in the US was “really important these days.” Right now Mercedes markets six different SUVs in the US, plus two coupe variants. They are the G-Class or “G wagons” which top the SUV lines, the small GLA-Class, the midsize GLB-Class, and the GLC-Class coupes.
The GLS-Class includes the standard SUV and ultra-luxury Maybach
Within the larger GLE-Class, there is both a traditional SUV and a coupe. Finally, there is the GLS-Class made up of the standard SUV and ultra-luxury GLS-Class Maybach. Mercedes also sells a C-Class wagon which fits the traditional station wagon mold. We would not be surprised to see Mercedes raise the C-Class wagon a bit to give it a more off-road look.
Even a traditional German company like Mercedes is feeling the effects of the change in all markets. Both in the US but also in Europe tastes are changing. Rather than slice up current existing segments, it needs to jump into the electric frontier much harder. For that, it also needs to simplify its lines.