So, which niche models will be on the chopping block.
The Mercedes-Benz lineup has been expanding so rapidly in recent years, it's almost impossible to keep up. There are SUVs, coupe versions of those same SUVs, sedans, coupes, four-door coupes, AMG versions, semi-AMG versions, and full-fat AMG-branded cars - it's truly maddening.
In a recent interview with Top Gear, Mercedes boss Dr. Dieter Zetsche admitted that the massive lineup expansion has been confusing to consumers. The company's R&D boss and future CEO, Ola Källenius, said he would "not hesitate" to cut down if certain niche models stop selling.
This brings up an interesting question - which models could potentially be on the chopping block in the future?
“[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," Källenius said.
Our mind instantly thought of the SL, which seems completely irrelevant in the lineup with the S-Class Cabriolet and AMG GT Roadster both being far newer. Mercedes is working on a new SL, so it may not be on the chopping block just yet. Mercedes also sells two more convertibles, the C-Class and E-Class, neither of which were mentioned as potential cuts.
“I do not think we’re looking at any radical trimming of the tree here,” Källenius said. “But, over the next ten years, we’ll look at the portfolio, look at what makes sense and cater it to where the market is going.” If the market is any indication, this would mean more SUVs and fewer sedans.
Mercedes-AMG also released the new GT 4-Door Coupe, which could compete internally with the new CLS. We thought this could make it an easy cut contender but Källenius explained “The AMG GT 4-Door Coupe, is for AMG, the perfect car. We had the SLS and the GT, but to couple that now with a business car or family car that you can take to the track, that makes AMG even broader. Even though we have other [cars] in the Mercedes portfolio that are close [like the E63, CLS, and S-Class], the customer feedback is they love the [GT’s] styling, it has true performance credibility, and interest like that, if done right, can be very profitable. So, let’s not rule out creativity here.”
At this point, it's difficult to get a read on which models may be on the chopping block, but it's interesting to hear Mercedes recognize that it may have too many models in its lineup.