By on May 1, 2019

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]

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5 Comments on “More Changes Come to Mercedes-AMG...”

  • avatar

    Aufrecht Melcher Guangzhou

  • avatar

    What a sad trajectory for AMG since they were absorbed by Mercedes.

  • avatar

    I live in a city with a large mainland Chinese immigrant population, and you would often see Chinese license plates underneath the local license plate (like what people do with cars obtained via European Delivery) and some even add badges of the Chinese joint venture company alongside their BMW/Mercedes/Audi badges.

  • avatar

    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.

  • avatar

    “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.

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