The S-Class is safe, but what about others?
SUVs and crossovers have seriously, and perhaps permanently, damaged sedan sales. Just take Ford, for example. With the sole exception of the Mustang coupe and convertible, the Blue Oval is completely out of the traditional car business in North America. Once popular models like the Ford Focus, Fusion, and Taurus are no more. Meanwhile, sales for the Ford Escape and Explorer are stellar. General Motors and its brands are following a similar path; are there any more Buick sedans? But what about luxury brands such as Mercedes-Benz? After all, it too has a long history with sedans, namely the C-Class, E-Class, and flagship S-Class.
Speaking to Autocar, Daimler CEO Ola Kallenius made one thing clear about the future of the Mercedes S-Class.
"We've had unbelievable success with SUVs, but the upper-luxury limousine segment is very robust. We believe that with the new life cycle, we can grow volume again, despite the SUVs. The segment seems to be particularly resilient for us."
He's right, but note he only mentioned the "upper-luxury limousine/sedan segment," not smaller sedans. The Mercedes GLC SUV is the brand's best-seller in the US, taking over the prestigious title from the C-Class sedan. However, the S-Class remains popular in America and at a global level. In 2019, for example, the S-Class was the best-selling luxury sedan in the world. There's no way Mercedes would ever abandon that without an extremely justifiable reason.
Despite its high price, starting at around $95,000, a total of 12,528 examples were sold in the US alone last year. The GLC, which begins at a far more affordable $42,500, sold an impressive 73,655 units in 2019. But the S-Class continues to play a crucial role as the automaker's new technology showcase.
The all-new 2021 S-Class is a true tech marvel with features such as fingerprint, face, and voice recognition, optional 3D graphics, and an augmented reality head-up display. All the futuristic tech was made possible thanks to over 30 million lines of code. Eventually, those technologies and others will trickle down to less expensive models, including the next-gen GLC.
While the S-Class doesn't offer an all-electric powertrain (that task will be handled by the upcoming EQS), it's a technological tour de force that demonstrates what Mercedes is capable of. That's the role of a true luxury flagship sedan. However, it's worth bearing in mind that even the C-Class is losing some popularity as production will soon cease in the US. While the S-Class's future is secured, it wouldn't be wise to say the same regarding smaller sedans.