MERCEDES’ bold new product strategy will add at least 10 extra body-style vehicles to the 32-strong existing range within four years.
Daimler AG board member Ola Kallenius – who replaces Thomas Weber as Mercedes development chief from January 1 and is widely tipped to succeed Dieter Zetsche as Daimler chairman in 2019 – revealed the ambitious expansion plan to Wheels at the New York motor show, confirming Mercedes will have more than 40 different body-style models by 2020.
“If you count the way we officially count – individual body styles – we have 32 now and we have laid a plan going up to 2020 to go slightly above 40,” said Kallenius (right). “So we have another 10 or so new models that don’t have a predecessor coming in the next four years.”
Wheels believes at least three will be new SUVs, though not, thankfully, a convertible to rival the roofless Range Rover Evoque.
First to arrive will be an allroad wagon (based on the new Mercedes-Benz E-Class wagon) that could arrive late this year.
A C-Class-based all-road wagon is possible, too.
“These kind of SUV coupes [like the GLC Coupe] – sports car and SUV blended into one – is an example that you can find niches that are also very successful,” he told us. “And I still think we can find another area or two there in the SUV portfolio.”
Kallenius scotched rumours of a Maybach model based on the E-Class sedan, but said a GLSbased Maybach SUV to rival the Bentley Bentayga was possible.
“I won’t rule that out. What’s interesting is the restart of the Maybach story [last year] … I think there is scope for growth in the Maybach brand. Maybach needs to be the highest exclusivity corner of the Mercedes-Benz family. Only on the top end would I see potential derivatives for Maybach, and not going downwards. So an E-Class, for instance, is not something we see on the cards.”
Kallenius reconfirmed Mercedes will launch a purpose-designed electric car “in the next couple of years” that will be joined by more pure-electric variants beyond 2020.
And the forthcoming Benz utility based on the Nissan Navara won’t account for two or three of the 10 new additions. Kallenius said it only counts as one.
AMG is also expected to add to the family (see breakout), but those are niche models, and Kallenius says not all of the 10 newcomers will be niche players.
So, significant sales volume opportunities not satisfied by today’s range? “Indeed.”
GLC Coupe sporty SUV GLB compact SUV E-Class wagon ‘All Terrain’ SUV Dedicated electric car AMG GT4 (four-door) AMG GT Roadster GLT/X-Class ute S-Class Cabriolet Maybach GLS-based large SUV Maybach S-Class-based large coupe AMG will launch its second exclusive model in early 2019, Wheels can reveal. Codenamed X290, it will be a four-door designed to challenge the Porsche Panamera.
The top-secret internal program to develop a four-door based on the architecture of the V8- powered GT will see the second AMG-only model wear a purposedesigned coupe-style body and is likely to share only front and rear graphics with the GT coupe.
“The chance to do something as an additional car within our portfolio dedicated as a pure AMG is increasing,” AMG boss Tobias Moers told us. “We had a very successful 2015 … so now it makes sense to take it more into consideration, having the idea of another variant dedicated to AMG… another car.”
Meanwhile, AMG also confirmed our revelation in the March edition that it will build an even faster, more extreme version of its flagship performance car, to be dubbed GT R.
The track-focused model will include active aerodynamics and four-wheel steering to go with a boost in power. Official power outputs are yet to be revealed, but expect the GT R’s 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 to produce in excess of 420kW, well up on the GT’s 375kW/700Nm in its most powerful S specification.