Mercedes must expand into the smaller segments in a big hurry, never mind the protests from amateur marketing experts that doing so will water down the brand. That brand needs a lot of watering, lest it will shrivel and die. At home in Europe, Daimler’s core customer group on average is around 60 years old. Don’t poo-poo that demographic: There used to be a lot of growth and money in it. However, it is getting frail: The peak of this demographic is soon to retire. Daimler needs to get young stat. Its fountain of youth is a car Reuters dubbed “the last chance saloon” – the CLA.
The car is shown this week at the Geneva Motor Show, as, says Reuters, “a test of Daimler’s ability to shake off a stuffy brand image partly blamed for Mercedes’ failure to keep pace with its two main competitors.”
While the competition is busy and successful in the smaller segments, that growing part of the market has given Daimler nothing but grief. Says Reuters:
“Under Zetsche, who heads both the Daimler group and the Mercedes-Benz business, the company has struggled to rein in undisclosed losses in smaller cars, understood to have reached 500 million euros ($650 million) at the Smart division. The Mercedes A- and B-Class were barely breaking even prior to the smaller model’s relaunch last year on a new front-wheel drive platform known as MFA.”
If the last chance saloon won’t make it, Daimler will be on the way to hell.