By on October 5, 2018

[Image: Daimler AG]

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]

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5 Comments on “Mercedes-Benz’s Massive Family Could Lose Some Members...”

  • avatar

    I always knew they had a crowded vehicle offering but figured since they made ridiculous profit on them that it was just the way they did things. And I am certain it is but reading between the lines here makes me think most of the traditional vehicles will be replaced with electric ones under the EQ branding.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree, their vehicle offering might be ‘crowded’ but so is the planet. There’s so much more customers out there than a few decades ago that it’s ridiculous.

      There’s a reason that BMW’s 3-series is now 1-, 2-, 3-, 4-, X1-, X2-, X3-, X4-series plus a few more models within those. (and soon i4 and iX3…). People would be bored and turned off a single car model that everyone else has, plus that one model can’t cater to their desires as effectively as a wide portfolio. And they’re still mostly based on only one or two platforms…

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    We had 2000 SLK for a few years, positive ownership experience, a nice touring car which in Special Edition trim black over tan looked good. But man the current gen SLK, SL front ends are hideous.The new pedestrian regulation really have designers’ hands tied.

  • avatar

    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.

  • avatar

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

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