By on May 20, 2019

Mercedes-Benz S-Klasse Cabriolet; A 217; 2018 - Image: Mercedes-Benz

Like most automakers, notably Honda and Ford, Mercedes-Benz is under pressure to pare back build configurations, and perhaps even entire models, to ease complexity. In this age of falling sales and costly investments in futuristic tech, the vehicle buffet can no longer be all-you-can-eat affair.

With that in mind, participants of a recent national Mercedes-Benz dealer meeting walked away with a better idea of the brand’s future lineup. Expect death notices within a few months, one dealer claims.

Speaking to Automotive News, the unidentified dealer said model discontinuations are in the works, with the announcements poised to drop likely within 90 days. “We are going to see models go away within the next 12 months,” the individual said in the wake of the May 8th Las Vegas meeting.

Options and equipment packages can also expect a haircut, attendees said. It’s a move the unnamed dealer agrees with.

“It’s 14 pages, and there’s a hundred choices on each of the 14 pages,” he said, comparing the automaker’s slate of offerings to a Cheesecake Factory menu. “I need a Ph.D. to figure out what the hell I want. I just want a chicken Caesar salad.”

This isn’t the first time we’ve heard of leaner product offerings from Mercedes-Benz. As longtime CEO Dr. Z heads off to retirement, his successor, Ola Källenius, hasn’t exactly been tight-lipped about the possibly of a model cull.

Image: Daimler AG

“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 told Top Gear last fall. “[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.”

More recently, Källenius, who takes over as Daimler CEO on May 22nd, complained about a bloated lineup during a media Q&A at last month’s Shanghai auto show. “We have a little bit more than 40 models now,” he said, adding that M-B could consolidate a “model or two.”

Dietmar Exler, who resigned as Mercedes-Benz USA CEO last week, told AN recently, “We need to take a close look at what segments, what niches, are big enough for us that they make sense for us to compete in them.”

“We will not go into a niche if it makes economically no sense,” he added.

As you’d expect, the models judged most likely to meet their end on Källenius’ chopping block are two-door passenger cars, most likely the coupe and convertible versions of the S-Class and C-Class sedans. Earlier this year, M-B announced the discontinuation of the slow-selling SLC roadster.

[Images: Daimler AG]

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25 Comments on “Model Discontinuations Coming Down the Pipe, Mercedes-Benz Dealer Says...”

  • avatar

    Options list 14 pages said the dealer. I need a Phd just to figure out what I want.

    And therein lies part of the problem with the dealer model.

    He should be thinking “what my customer wants”.

    If I could “build my own” from that 14 page list (apparently it can be done if the dealer is offered the choice) I would gladly pay MBZ MSRP and wait 3-4 months for build and deliver. It will be a big step forward When the dealer sales model changes to prep, delivery and service rather than what you see on the lot is what I got.

    • 0 avatar

      Then go ahead and order your Mercedes. Most dealers will allow you to do so, although of course they will try and get you to buy off the lot.

      • 0 avatar

        I use to work for them, people did order cars quite often although I think they were just lining up delivery time for when their current lease was going to be up. You can even go to Germany and have it delivered right at the factory but don’t miss your time slot, they don’t waver and people are lined up for their cars.

  • avatar

    No (censored) that M-B needs to shrink their lineup a little bit. They’re looking like GM pre-2008 with all of the models.
    Remember the good old days when it was C, E, S, and SL (the the G-Wagon for those in the know)? Now you need a flowchart and a lot of paper to figure out their lineup.
    I can see all of their convertibles except the SL going away. The CLA might vanish in favor for the A-class. I see so few new CLS models now (can’t speak for Southern California – I understand they are everywhere there) that I wouldn’t be surprised if that took the bolt to the head as well. Actually, anything with a “CL” in it might be on borrowed time. With Nissan/Infiniti dropping their version, I wonder if the GLA has long to live as well.
    So…sedans and crossovers. And a van. (Sigh…)

    • 0 avatar

      GLA won’t be going away, those are everywhere but all it did was give people a cheaper option to the GLK (whatever its called now). I knew that was going to happen, same as the CLA did to the C class. People return their GLK or C class lease and just went with the cheaper option.

    • 0 avatar

      Yeah, I *really* don’t understand why there’s a CLA “4-door coupe” and also an A-Class sedan. There’s also not much sense in having the AMG GT convertible and the SL.

      But they’ll sure offer four different sizes of “sports activity coupe,” now, won’t they?

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    BMW needs to do this, too. BMW-USA lists at least 30 different models, and I’d bet the 80/20 rule applies to their respective sales figures.

    • 0 avatar

      So does Audi and maybe even Porsche. It’s surprising that VW has cut so much of the Volkswagen line, while leaving Porsche and Audi with such large lineups.

  • avatar

    I’m sorry to see this. Yes, the US dealer model encourages things like Acura. Base, Tech, Sport, Ultimate. Three or four packages and the dealer’s floor planner can get six shades of grey/grey/silver. L, LE or SEL. Keep it simple for product purposes.

    The Euros built to order in the home market and other world markets. Look at VW’s Brit or German websites, and you’ll be amazed at the colors on offer, which you can do when it’s to order-no one but you has to like the plaid interior with lemon yellow exterior and red seat belts…. I bought two cars to order-it was worth waiting for-

    Most German cars are the Manager Special. It will have an automatic (when it was a difference), the Prestige/Luxury package, and maybe leather. If you wanted Sport suspension, Seats, a manual, etc, you had to order it anyway….so if you have to do this, going into the 14 page order catalog is part of the fun. Sorry to see this dumbed down anyway. Probably cheez ed off the dealer because you’ll never have the exact car in the lot….

  • avatar

    MB has so many configurations and models around the world. I sure hope the C-series is not on the chopping block. The CLA is just a sad excuse of a Mercedes, and I see them everywhere here in the land of recently minted tech employees.

    • 0 avatar

      I doubt the C is going anywhere. There are a lot of places in the world that tax by size, and a true luxury car that happens to miss a big tax will always sell. I’m glad the CLA exists so the C could move upmarket-the ICE and switchgear is the same as the big Benzes in the C. The CLA ? Seriously, buy an optioned up Accord…..

  • avatar

    “pare back build configurations”

    I don’t know how some folks spend over $70K on a car, get locked out on exterior/interior colors & trim combinations and don’t think it is bullsh*t.

  • avatar

    Just saw a story that the GLE is piling up like firewood in parking lots around the Alabama factory? Perhaps the SUV gravy train is slowing down?

    • 0 avatar

      It’s so bad! There is a closed-down shopping mall from the 80s(Century Plaza) in the ghetto of Crestwood (Birmingham) that has been covered in every manner of grey/grey/black Mercedes-Benz SUV when I’ve visited home.

      They’re stockpiling the things, and I’ve wondered about it for a while now! I haven’t been interested enough to stop to check– but I’d almost bet money they’re all CDi models?

      • 0 avatar

        Probably the high interest rates was all it took to turn people away from them. Their sales were UP during the recession 10 years ago and only now they are starting to plummet.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      My math says there is a 49-day supply on dealer lots, which is better than the supposedly ideal 60-to-70-day supply.

      Maybe they’ve rented all their delivery trucks out to Tesla?

    • 0 avatar

      Maybe MB should rethink making vehicles in the armpit of America, especially given that state’s notoriety lately.

    • 0 avatar

      We could only hope!

    • 0 avatar

      There’s a quality control issue at the plant with the new model launch. Has. Pyongyang to do with sales. The demand is actually high for the new body style, dealers are hurting.

      • 0 avatar

        There’s a quality control issue at the plant with the new model launch. Has nothing to do with sales. The demand is actually high for the new body style, dealers are hurting.

  • avatar

    As more cars get leased and or lo/no down financed, and as leases/terms get more aggressive, they all have to do this.

    When “everyone” who drives a car off the lot, is upside down for three years or more, predictable residuals starts becoming the driving factor. And that means: Enough sales, and resales, of each variation to have the numbers to make those residuals more predictable.

  • avatar

    I haven’t seen any particular sign that Mercedes are better built than much less expensive cars. Part of their high price these days has surely been in that expansion to serve every possible niche in the market. Juggling 40 models? Not cheap.

    In the older days until Mercedes were exposed as an old-timey kind of manufacturer by “The machine that changed the world” book in 1990, the extra money went into the product. Now they’re as skinflint cheap as anyone else, but the legend lives on in the minds of customers, and in the bloated mind of their chief designer Gorden Wagener who actually lives near San Diego for that peculiar California light and its effects on body shape. He needs to get back to the smog of Stuttgart, roll up his sleeves and get on with it instead of parading around extolling his own virtues as a design paragon, while issuing coffee table books. MB needs a slim down all right. Getting rid of some of the pseuds and hangers-on would be a good start for the new CEO.

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