Mercedes Clinics US-Market Front-Drive Models

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
mercedes clinics us market front drive models

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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  • Pete Zaitcev Pete Zaitcev on May 10, 2010

    Lexus ES is FWD, Lexus IS is RWD, and they sell almost exactly the same numbers between themselves. It's not like anyone cares really.

  • 1600 MKII 1600 MKII on Jul 29, 2011

    What a friggin shame. Back in 2006 I had planned to get a B Class, despite the fact I couldn't get a diesel here. M-B had announced a June 06 unveiling of it. I had been averaging 50 mpg in Italy in an A Class Luxury and loved that car. I don't understand their thinking. The B Class is the proper size for the R Class styling. Guess I'm just that 1% idiot who they're not interested in. I'll have to stay with my BMWs.

  • Inside Looking Out You should care. With GM will die America. All signs are there. How about the Arsenal of Democracy? Toyota?
  • DenverMike What else did anyone think, when GM was losing tens of billions a year, year after year?
  • Bill Wade GM says they're killing Android Auto and Apple Carplay. Any company that makes decisions like that is doomed to die.
  • Jeff S I don't believe gm will die but that it will continue to shrink in product and market share and it will probably be acquired by a foreign manufacturer. I doubt gm lacks funds as it did in 2008 and that they have more than enough cash at hand but gm will not expand as it did in the past and the emphasis is more on profitability and cutting costs to the bone. Making gm a more attractive takeover target and cut costs at the expense of more desirable and reliable products. At the time of Farago's article I was in favor of the Government bailout more to save jobs and suppliers but today I would not be in favor of the bailout. My opinions on gm have changed since 2008 and 2009 and now I really don't care if gm survives or not.
  • Kwik_Shift I was a GM fan boy until it ended in 2013 when I traded in my Avalanche to go over to Nissan.