Mercedes-Benz's Massive Family Could Lose Some Members

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
mercedes benzs massive family could lose some members

Mercedes-Benz isn’t exempt from the normal ebb and flow of product lines, but no one would claim that the German automaker doesn’t have a crowded house. Coupe-ified versions of its utility vehicles proliferated in recent years, as have AMG variants of existing models.

This is an automaker with three roadsters. Coupes and convertibles spring from everywhere at once.

As Mercedes-Benz prepares to transition oversight of the company away from longtime CEO Dr. Dieter Zetsche, his chosen successor, Ola Källenius, admits the product family might require some paring.

Speaking to Top Gear at the Paris auto show, the current R&D chief said model elimination would be done with a scalpel, not a chainsaw.

“We have had about 20 years of almost uninterrupted broadening of the portfolio, especially on the SUV side, if you look at how successful that has been over the years,” Källenius said.

“[Between] 2020-2022 this will take us to well above 40 models. And even if we love every one of our ‘children’, and we do, we must be very rational. We must not hesitate to slim down as well.”

Mercedes-Benz has shown it can part with some of its children. The automaker culled the ridiculous, V12-powered Mercedes-AMG G 65 ahead of the arrival of the next-gen G-Class, and last year it announced the elimination of America’s B-Class Electric Drive. That model’s gas-powered Canadian sibling disappears after 2019, even though an updated replacement looms in Europe.

Källenius was quick to reassure fans of niche models that product changes will not be sweeping, not will they be immediate. The Swede replaces Dr. Z in the CEO’s chair next May.

“I do not think we’re looking at any radical trimming of the tree here,” he said. “But, over the next ten years, we’ll look at the portfolio, look at what makes sense and cater it to where the market is going.”

In the U.S., you can rest assured that utility vehicles stand the best chance of avoiding the chopping block. The compact GLC remains the brand’s best-seller, with volume up 53.8 percent, year to date. Low-volume models like the SLC and SL roadsters continue to see their popularity decline, with the smaller two-seater sinking 31.2 percent over the first nine months of the year. Its SL big brother fell 24.4 percent over the same period.

Overall, Mercedes’ standing in the U.S. slipped this year, with year-to-date sales down 5.8 percent.

[Image: Daimler AG]

Join the conversation
2 of 5 comments
  • Iamwho2k Iamwho2k on Oct 05, 2018

    If they still make SLKs I will gladly take one of the surplus off their hands. I won't even charge them any money. In a nice blue, please.

  • Johnster Johnster on Oct 06, 2018

    In addition to Mercedes-Benz, I feel that both BMW and Audi have unusually large lineups.

  • FreedMike Needs a few more HP to really spice things up...
  • Oberkanone Absolute insanity on our public roads! A danger to society. Bravo Dodge!
  • Lou_BC Cool car but 35k USD?
  • Lou_BC I've owned and ridden many litre class sport bikes. Those bikes render anything on 4 wheels boring. This is cool but even if I had the cash, it would be a hard pass.
  • Jeff S Some of us don't care either way we are not into this type of car. Most of these will be stored in garages waiting for their value to go up. As someone above noted this is an old body style which is retro 70s Challenger which after researching it came out in the 2008 MY which means a long run for a model that is in its 16th year. I have always liked these but if I bought one I would not spend this kind of money on one probably get the V-6 version and use it as a family car but then I am not into drag racing or muscle cars. For the type of car it is it has a decent rear seat and not too bad of a trunk. Most of us are not going to spend 100k for any vehicle at least currently so its not something most of us will buy and stick in a garage waiting for its value to increase. I am glad that these editions came out for those who can afford them and it keeps a little more color into what has become a very dull vehicle market but then with age I pick the dull appliance like reliable vehicle because that's what I need. Impressive car but not for me.