More Changes Come to Mercedes-AMG

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

Daimler’s performance arm, Mercedes-AMG, has entered a period of transition. In addition to placing a strengthened emphasis on all-wheel drive, the company will also begin manufacturing vehicles in China.

While the assembly locale isn’t equally important for all cars, AMG is famous for its one-man-one-engine philosophy. Part of the appeal, we assumed, was getting a rear-drive monster with a hand-built engine that some auto nerd from Affalterbach was proud enough of to lend their signature. That could change after the Mercedes-AMG A 45 moves to Beijing later this year.

Still, Daimler doesn’t want to rock the boat too much, at least not initially. Though the A 35 L 4MATIC will be built by Daimler’s joint venture with BAIC (with a wheelbase stretched 2.4 inches), Automotive News reports that the 302-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder beneath its hood will originate in Koelleda, Germany. Presumably, that means smaller, signed AMG engines will continue to be manufactured using the established philosophy for the immediate future. But we should note that the A 34 L’s engine offers diminished output versus other AMG cars it’s found in.

From Automotive News:

The A 45’s popularity signals that young Chinese customers, in particular, are developing a taste for powerful vehicles even though much of China’s infrastructure consists of clogged city roads poorly suited for sports cars and traffic cameras that clamp down on speeding.

Typically, even large luxury cars in China have underpowered engines, partly for tax reasons, but it’s also difficult to go fast on most Chinese roads so powerful vehicles are not needed.

Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche said he recently had an encouraging conversation with the head of Lei Shing Hong Holding, the largest Mercedes dealer in China.

“They want to focus more on AMG because they see a huge potential,” Zetsche said on the sidelines of the Shanghai auto show. Other dealers also see an opportunity, Zetsche said.

Nicholas Speeks, head of Mercedes-Benz sales for China, said more customers are starting to take an interest in AMG vehicles, adding that it isn’t always about owning the most powerful version of a car. Many drivers simply want the sound and feel of an AMG, he said. And, while he admits Chinese demand for AMGs isn’t comparable to Germany or the United States, Speeks said the People’s Republic is simply too big a market to ignore.

To help encourage shoppers in Asia, Mercedes plans to build an AMG brand experience center at the Zhejiang Circuit in Shaoxing. Similar to BMW and Porsche’s “Driving Experience,” Daimler’s new program will allow drivers to test their own cars in a high-speed environment while dining at high-end restaurants and receiving some gentle pampering before retiring to a nearby hotel for the evening.

[Image: Daimler AG]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • Conundrum Conundrum on May 01, 2019

    AMG engines are not "hand crafted" in the traditional sense anyway. As this Mercedes magazine article notes. Nobody's filing parts or even using "matched" sets of pistons. So PR aside, no doubt a human being somewhere else other than the elf factory in Germany could assemble one.

  • IBx1 IBx1 on May 02, 2019

    "more customers are starting to take an interest in AMG vehicles, adding that it isn’t always about owning the most powerful version of a car" When you only build automatics, the "performance" trim is simply the one that costs more money, and that's what both the owner and bystander NPCs live by.

  • Tassos Most people here who think it is a good idea have NO idea how much such a conversion costs. Hint: MORE than buying an entire new car.
  • Zipper69 Current radio ads blare "your local Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram dealer" and the facias read the same. Is the honeymoon with FIAT over now the 500 and big 500 have stopped selling?
  • Kjhkjlhkjhkljh kljhjkhjklhkjh hmmm get rid of the garbage engine in my chevy, and the garbage under class action lawsuit transmission? sounds good to me
  • ToolGuy Personally I have no idea what anyone in this video is talking about, perhaps someone can explain it to me.
  • ToolGuy Friendly reminder of two indisputable facts: A) Winners buy new vehicles (only losers buy used), and B) New vehicle buyers are geniuses (their vehicle choices prove it):