Interview

Mercedes Is Thinking About Making A Rival To BMW's i Brand

But it's taking a much different approach than BMW.

Mercedes may have been the first automotive company in the world to sell gas-powered cars, but its main rival, BMW ,is doing all it can to ensure that it stays ahead of the automaker in the future. BMW has a head start with its i brand, made up of futuristic and fuel-efficient cars that are fun to drive (i8 only). Like all car companies Mercedes is subject to the tightening laws on pollution and automobile efficiency and must create new technology in order to keep up with governmental and consumer demands.

In a recent interview with Autocar, Mercedes cars, marketing, and sales chief Ola Kallenius said that a Mercedes equivalent of BMW’s i brand is a possibility, but it isn’t at the forefront of the automaker’s focus. The goal for Mercedes is zero emissions and a heavy investment into drivelines and electrification is the way that the brand will get there. “That’s a very wide strategy,” said Kallenius, “but it means that by the end of next year we will have 10 plug-in hybrid models, which, I think, is the widest portfolio of any luxury manufacturer.” While this encapsulates quite a few models, Mercedes has a large lineup compared to most other automakers so this means more freedom to make more plug-in hybrids.

This would add to its current plug-in hybrid lineup, which includes the C350e, the GLE550e, and the S550e. By the end of this year, three electric vehicles will roll out of Daimler factories including the electrified B-Class and two Smart Cars. Next year will see the introduction of a hydrogen fuel cell Mercedes that will be based on the GLC’s platform. With Kallenius’ comments it seems like Mercedes has the same goal as BMW does but with a much different execution. Rather than packaging its vehicles into a separate brand complete with unique styling and futuristic technology, Mercedes is taking a more quiet and less polarizing approach by outfitting its regular cars to be more efficient. Whether it works or not has yet to be seen.

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