The Truth About Cars » B Class The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Fri, 18 Jul 2014 14:25:20 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » B Class B-Class Picture Orgy Thu, 25 Aug 2011 10:01:31 +0000 The new Mercedes B-Class has been extensively discussed here, it was shown at the Shanghai Auto Show, where it found itself upstaged by the requisite Chinese copy. Slowly, it is time to show the production model. Which will happen at the Frankfurt Auto Show. After the rest of the world has seen the B-Class, now Germany can too.

“No model change in the history of Mercedes-Benz has ever seen so many new developments introduced in one fell swoop,” promises Dr. Thomas Weber, Member of the Board of Management responsible for Group Research and Head of Development, Mercedes-Benz Cars. “Future B-Class customers will benefit from this quantum leap in terms of exemplary low fuel consumption and CO2 emissions combined with driving pleasure, plenty of space and the highest standard of safety that has ever been available in this class.”

The new B-Klasse will be making its way to European dealers in November 2011.

And in case you haven’t seen enough pictures of the B-Class already, here it is, the biggest B-Class picture collection in recorded history.

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Mercedes Clinics US-Market Front-Drive Models Mon, 10 May 2010 16:17:06 +0000

Automotive News Digital Edition [sub] reports that Mercedes-Benz is holding consumer clinics in the US, gathering input ahead of its launch of the first front-drive Mercedes models to be sold in the US. Sales of the B-Class-based front-drive models won’t being until “after 2011,” and Mercedes admits that a design freeze has not yet taken place. Still, one thing is certain: prospective customers are not being shown an MPV-like hatchback along the lines of the current B-Class that’s sold in Europe and Canada because of dealer concerns. Says MB-USA development boss Bernhard Glaser:

[Dealers] were concerned about the previous generation because it did stand out and that is kind of a whole different brand sell that you have to try and jump over. This will be seamless.

Instead of the small family hatch, Mercedes is holding clinics on three other models based on the next-gen B-Class platform: a crossover, a sporty coupe and a sedan. Dealers who have seen the clay models at these clinics are responding positively, but obviously there’s much work left to be done. For one thing, Mercedes hasn’t even decided if the B-Class name will make to America, or if it will receive a market-specific nomenclature.

What the entry-level Mercs might well receive is a little cross-platform competition. And no, we don’t mean the next-gen Renault Twingo is due to arrive stateside. Rumors have been rampant that Infiniti is considering its own sub-EX crossover model built on the same B-Class platform as part of the Renault-Nissan-Daimler tie-up. Whether this crossover will be built at all is still under question, let alone whether it will come stateside. Still, the potential cannibalism and branding issues are a clear danger.

And speaking of branding issues, how are clinic attendees reacting to the notion of a front-drive Merc? No word yet from the Benz boys on that point yet. On the other hand, given how BMW’s attempts to justify the RWD-to-FWD shift have been going, we’ll assume that no news is relatively good news.

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Mercedes Benz: Smaller, Cheaper, Greener Fri, 13 Nov 2009 15:55:23 +0000 Malaisey-Benz?

Ever get the feeling that the car game is dealing with some malaise? Dieter Zetsche sure seems to. “The definition of luxury will be somewhat different,” Doctor Z tells the Wall Street Journal. “It will be fewer CO2 emissions and more modesty in appearance.” And this from the company that sells cars on the back of a brand dripping with immodesty and ostentation. But no matter, the decision has been made: Zetsche wants to chase what the WSJ terms “Americans’ growing interest in downsized models that offer upscale features and finishes.” Wait, growing interest? The MINI sells decently, but the A3 (fewer than 3k units sold year-to-date) and 1 Series (fewer than 10k units year-to-date) are hardly setting the luxury segment on fire. Damn the torpedoes, people want green modesty, and Zetsche’s going to give it to them with four compact models planned for the US sometime after 2011.

For sure, there will be another B-class, which will be pretty similar, address the same customer as the B-class today. The three other body styles clearly intend to target additional and different segments from the one that we can target today, including gender barriers.

Smaller, greener and more identity-politics-y. That sounds like just what the luxury market has been begging for! And we haven’t even started in on the cost-cutting yet.

Daimler is trying to cut $7.5b from its annual outlays, which includes cutting hours and freezing assembly worker pay as well as cutting back unneeded commercial truck capacity. But part of the cost-cutting includes the new compact architecture on which the four new US-bound premium compacts are based. Daimler admits that its a “low-cost” platform, and vehicles based on it will be largely produced in Hungary. Similarly, Mercedes is strongly considering bringing C-Class production to its Alabama plant. Zetsche tells Automotive News [sub] that currency exchange rates will make that decision for him. Exchange rates killed the last plan to bring Mercedes A and B Class compacts to the US, but Zetsche is confident that the underlying platforms and Hungarian production will be so cheap that the four compacts will still be profitable.

But profits aren’t everything to Mercedes-Benz. With Audi on a roll, and BMW expanding its lineup, Mercedes is playing catchup in a number of markets, including the US and China. Which, is where the four compacts of the Apocalypse fit in. “We certainly have a strong growth phase coming” Zetsche tells Bloomberg. The four compacts “would certainly give us faster growth than our direct competitors.” And its not just sales volume that is justifying this line of cheap (to build, not buy) compacts. Daimler has to reduce its average carbon emissions by 30 grams per kilometer by 2015, or face up to €3b in fines.

After a decade or so of stagnation, Mercedes is playing catchup. It can swaddle its ambitions in talk of redefining luxury and eco-consciousness all it wants, but the reality is is considerably more desperate. Volume must go up, costs must go down and emissions really have to go down: not the combination of dynamics that portends good things for a luxury brand. Though this will doubtless shake M-B out of its overly traditional brand image, it will be tough selling this transition as an organic expansion or redefinition of the brand. Execution of these four 2012 compacts will be crucial.

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