Mercedes-Benz is about to embark on what its new U.S chief executive says its biggest growth phase ever in the U.S., refreshing or replacing 19 existing models while adding 11 new models in segments where it has never competed on the way to 2020.
The new products will range from a new, smallest Mercedes in the U.S., the CLA Class, to a stretched version of its biggest, the super-luxe S-Class. There will even be a convertible version of the compact C Class to lure younger buyers.
“That’s a nonstop product cadence,” says Steve Cannon, CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA in an interview with USA TODAY about the expansion only a week after divulging his plans to dealers around the country, meeting in Las Vegas.
It’salso a bold bet. Despite increasing competition from other automakers, Cannon believes there will be enough new and existing luxury customers to roll out the bevy of new vehicles.
He says he doesn’t think thje new automotive eye candy will be cannibalizing customers from other Mercedes models. “In most cases, our expansion really provides us with an opportunity to talk to a new customer,” he says.
Where will those new customers come from? He already knows: Gen Y, the millennials. With the leading edge now in their early 30s, Cannon says many are ready to step into the luxury market. And the goal is to keep them through all their driving years, moving successively up the model ladder with every promotion and raise.
“We’re a brand we think can absolutely connect with them,” Cannon says. “Gen Y is just coming of age. We get on their radar screen in a big way.”
One big lure: the new, small CLA and various iterations — small, more fuel-efficient and as Mercedes-Benzes go, more affordable. It’s coming for 2013, along with a redone E Class, a critically important sedan for Mercedes, and the new S Class flagship.
Another big lure: The droptop version of the C Class will give Mercedes the chance to offer an affordable convertible, a compact that should also draw in Gen Y, he says. Right now, the lowest-priced Mercedes droptop is an E Class costing more than $50,000.
The seventh generation of the S Class will come in an extended version that adds 10 inches to the wheelbase. “It all goes into the back seat,” he says. One benefit of the new version will be to try to lure customers who might have considered the Maybach, which has been discontinued. “We’re now offering a really awesome alternative,” Cannon says.
Via: USA Today