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Old 05-20-2019, 08:33 AM   #1
AVANTI R5
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Default Mercedes tells U.S. dealers that products, trims will be reduced

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Mercedes tells U.S. dealers that products, trims will be reduced

The SLC Roadster will be dropped.

Hoping to take some of the complexity out of a product portfolio that has proliferated in nameplates, model variants, trim packages and engine options over the last two decades, Mercedes-Benz told dealers this month that it will jettison some of its U.S. offerings in the coming year.

The brand's nameplates in the U.S. have nearly doubled to 15 since 2000. Factor in engine variants and body styles, and the luxury automaker sells nearly 90 models stateside.

Mercedes-Benz declined to comment on the plan that it laid out to retailers May 8 at a national meeting in Las Vegas.

"We are going to see models go away within the next 12 months," said one dealer who attended the closed-door meeting and asked not to be identified. "Within the next 90 days, we might see some of those announcements."

Mercedes also will prune the number of options and equipment packages it offers, according to people who heard the presentation, eliminating poor-selling ones while making the most popular options standard equipment on certain models or tacking them onto existing feature packages.

The Mercedes dealer compared the brand's product range to the voluminous menu at a Cheesecake Factory restaurant.

"It's 14 pages, and there's a hundred choices on each of the 14 pages," he said. "I need a Ph.D. to figure out what the hell I want. I just want a chicken Caesar salad."

Arms race
Product portfolio inflation isn't limited to Mercedes. Rival BMW more than doubled its U.S. offerings to 17 nameplates since 2000, while Audi nearly tripled its portfolio to 14 nameplates.

The German premium brands have been in a "fragmentation arms race" over the last several years, almost to the point of confusing the consumer, said Jeff Schuster, president of global forecasting at LMC Automotive.


The S-class coupe could be at risk.
"It has gotten to the point of being just too much to manage customer model confusion, vehicle logistics and manufacturing," Schuster said. "Each of these models require marketing support, education at the dealer level, even service and parts inventory."

For dealers, more models has meant higher inventory levels, which increase floorplan balances, resulting in increased dealership interest expense.

Complications aside, Mercedes' strategy of targeting niches has allowed it to cast a wider net for customers. That approach has paid off — Mercedes has been the U.S. luxury sales champion for three consecutive years.

But even now, Mercedes' U.S. model expansion is continuing. This year will see the introduction of two new-to-the-U.S. nameplates. In March, Mercedes began selling the A-class compact sedan, its least expensive nameplate. The GLB crossover is expected to arrive at stores by Christmas, dealers were told at the meeting.

"We need to take a close look at what segments, what niches, are big enough for us that they make sense for us to compete in them," Dietmar Exler told Automotive News last month before news of his resignation as Mercedes-Benz USA CEO last week. "We will not go into a niche if it makes economically no sense."

Ola Källenius, who takes over as Daimler CEO on Wednesday, May 22, acknowledged the portfolio could use a trim.

"We have a little bit more than 40 models now," Källenius said at a media roundtable on the sidelines of the Shanghai auto show in April, referring to all body styles. He said he anticipates consolidation of a "model or two" in the future.

Chopping block contenders
Mercedes has not yet told dealers which models might be on the chopping block. But there are some likely contenders.

In February, the automaker said it will discontinue the SLC Roadster next year, citing a challenging market for compact two-seaters in an increasingly SUV-oriented market. U.S. sales of the SLC dropped to 1,993 last year and have fallen steadily since topping 10,000 a year in the early 2000s.
The low-volume S-class convertible and coupe models are also at risk of being eliminated in the U.S. Combined sales of the S-class body variants totaled 2,200 last year, according to LMC Automotive.
Lower down the price stack, the C-class coupe and convertible also could disappear. U.S. sales of the C-class coupe tumbled 25 percent and the convertible 31 percent in the last year, according to LMC.
Niche car models are being squeezed out of the marketplace by higher-volume, higher-profit light trucks.

The GLE and GLC coupe crossovers target the same buyers who, a generation ago, would have purchased an E-class or C-class coupe or convertible.

"Coupes and convertibles in the sedan segment are niches of niches," said Sam Fiorani, vice president with AutoForecast Solutions. "Additional versions of passenger car models such as the S-class coupe are less likely to be replaced after the current generation ends."

Sharing opportunities
Automakers often rely on consumer studies to identify white spaces — segments of the market that are not being addressed — to determine what products to bring to market.

But in the last decade, the German luxury brands have taken more of a tit-for-tat approach to product development, launching vehicles to match competitor moves, noted Ed Kim, analyst with AutoPacific.


Mercedes added the A-class sedan this year.
"If BMW is going to have a midsize crossover coupe, then, by golly, Mercedes and Audi are going to do it, too," Kim said.

Technology advancements have fueled the arms race. Vehicle platforms today are flexible, allowing automakers to add new models at an incremental cost.

"You can make money on lower volume by sharing a vehicle platform with a more mainstream model by putting a different top hat on it," Schuster said. "However, we have hit a point of saturation."

By sharing platforms, Mercedes can deliver more consumer choice in a cost-effective way, Källenius said.

"We have had almost an unbroken trend over 20 years, where we have gone for more variants," he said. "The key to doing that successfully is intelligent architectures."

Robust consumer demand over the last decade provided automakers the runway to chase every conceivable niche. But things are different now as the industry stares into the maw of a sales contraction.

While development costs can be shared, dividing marketing budgets among all the models is harder.

"With industry volumes dropping, automakers have to think about how to use their marketing resources to the best benefit," Kim said. "Having too many models makes that a bigger challenge."
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Old 01-22-2020, 05:18 AM   #2
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Default Facelifted Mercedes-Benz E-Class Previewed, Will Offer Seven Plug-In Hybrid Variants




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Mercedes-Benz has previewed the facelifted E-Class before the vehicle reaches European showrooms this coming summer.

The new luxury sedan, previewed in prototype form through a host of official ‘spy shots’ published by Mercedes-Benz, will undergo a series of alterations for the 2020 model year.

These will include a number of visual modifications such as revised front and rear bumpers as well as a new set of headlights and taillights that appear similar in shape to those of the current CLS and CLA models. There will be more important modifications to the facelifted E-Class than a tweaked design, however.

Beneath the skin, Mercedes-Benz will equip the refreshed E-Class with its latest suite of assisted-driving technologies. These will include Active Distance Assist Distronic that is able to detect traffic jams and slow-moving traffic before even the driver becomes aware of them.

Elsewhere, the new E-Class will receive Active Traffic Jam Assist, Active Steering Assist, Active Brake Assist with cross-traffic function, Active Blind Spot Assist, and the Parking Package complete with a 360-degree camera.

A number of new engines will also be added to the E-Class range. Most notably, there will be no fewer than seven plug-in hybrid models including select 4MATIC variants and estates. In addition, the facelifted E-Class will receive the firm’s latest 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 268 HP (272 PS) and working alongside an EQ Boost system. There will be a new six-cylinder gasoline engine also complete with a 48-volt system and EQ Boost to deliver up to 362 HP (367 PS).

Updates will also be made in the cabin. Changes will include a new steering wheel with touch control buttons, a new air quality indicator, and the Mercedes-Benz Urban Guard feature that provides all-around surveillance when the vehicle is parked.

Mercedes-Benz is yet to announce when the facelifted E-Class will actually premiere.
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Old 01-22-2020, 02:16 PM   #3
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The brand's nameplates in the U.S. have nearly doubled to 15 since 2000. Factor in engine variants and body styles, and the luxury automaker sells nearly 90 models stateside.

"We have a little bit more than 40 models now," Källenius said at a media roundtable on the sidelines of the Shanghai auto show in April, referring to all body styles. He said he anticipates consolidation of a "model or two" in the future.
MB cannot even keep up with their own nomenclature.
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Old 01-22-2020, 03:17 PM   #4
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I think that's the problem among the big 3 German brands, way too many combinations but not enough of differentiations
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Old 01-22-2020, 03:23 PM   #5
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We're going to cut product and trims by increasing them.
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Old 01-22-2020, 03:46 PM   #6
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All their models look the same and most of them are styled on the bland side IMO. I do like the new interiors though.
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Old 01-23-2020, 12:11 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by heavyD View Post
All their models look the same and most of them are styled on the bland side IMO. I do like the new interiors though.
Agreed!
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Old 01-23-2020, 01:03 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by s3cf View Post
I think that's the problem among the big 3 German brands, way too many combinations but not enough of differentiations
This is what happens when they try to fill every segment possible, even create new segments that no one really knew we needed.
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Old 01-23-2020, 01:20 PM   #9
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Trump might lay a heavy import tax on autos from Germany.
I can live without European cars as repair costs ridiculous
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-d...-idUSKBN1ZL1GK

Last edited by Masterauto; 01-23-2020 at 01:28 PM.
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