Daimler Sportscar Strategy Explained. Or Not.
We reported previously that the McLaren Mercecdes partnership was in trouble because (amongst other things) Mercedes didn’t want an SLR replacement messing with its forthcoming gullwinged SLC (actual name may vary). Nicht wahr, says July’s print edition of Auto Motor und Sport. Mercedes doesn’t want to match the $115m the royal family of Bahrain paid for 30 percent of McLaren, and it’s getting petulant. According to AM und S, “a racing car for the streets doesn’t fit with Daimler’s corporate politics.” If Daimler lets McLaren build sports cars, there’ll be no Mercedes engine or star on the hood. This from the folks who brought us the CLK-GTR, AMG Black Series, Zonda engine, etc. Persistent rumors of a technical hook-up with Aston Martin may mean Mercedes has already made an exclusive deal for its best engines. But spurning McLaren for Aston (if that is what’s happening) doesn’t make much sense. The McLaren-Mercedes racing partnership is a halo exercise for Daimler, and a mid-engined McLaren (already in development) would add to that even without a Mercedes badge. Meanwhile, Aston is never going to start embossing “powered by AMG” into its fine Connolly leather. Besides, DB9s start at $170k, which is bound to be closer to the new SLC’s $150k target price than a mid-engined McLaren would be. Which might explain why renderings of the SLC in AM und S show it going all anti-retro despite the obvious gullwing heritage. So, is Aston going to become the “retro” Mercedes brand? Does McLaren need to find another royal family to buy its freedom from Daimler? Will the SLC still sound like “death on a stick” when it gets to market? As usual, there are more questions than answers.
Carguy on Sep 18, 2008
Moving out of the business of building mega-dollar super cars is probably a good move by Mercedes. They need to concentrate on keeping their bread and butter products competitive. An agreement with Aston could make sense - Aston gets access to AMG engines and Mercedes can get remedial lessons in how to make a car interior seem luxurious.
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