German automakers have continuously proved that it takes constant reinvention to stay ahead.
There’s only so far any given automaker can expand its lineup before it finds itself in a bind, victim to a self-created bubble where too many models reside in its lineup and give customers more options than they need. The automakers that seem most at risk of such bubbles are of the German variety given a recent and rapid explosion of low-end vehicles to appeal to younger buyers and SUVs for everyone else. To make room, Germany's automakers were going after unnecessary coupes and convertibles.
As a report by Automobile Magazine proves, the dynasty of superior German sports cars and grand tourers will take a beating by seeing the niche models go out of production. For Mercedes, that would be the SLC, a facelifted and rebadged SLK replacement that’s only a year into its lifespan and will see the axe after its product cycle is over. This news isn’t exactly unexpected as the Tri-Star already has the AMG GT Roadster, GT C, and S-Class Coupe and Convertible in the family. Unfortunately this leaves the SLC as a highly niche vehicle residing in the middle and hardly soaking up enough sales to justify the cost of investment.
Instead of continuing on, Mercedes has shifted focus to a shared lightweight platform that will underpin the next generation AMG GT as well as the next SL, saving money on what would otherwise be a high cost of investment with marginal returns for two separate cars. The GT will remain a two-seat coupe and convertible that rivals the Porsche 911, but the SL will morph from a two-seater into a 2+2 configuration, losing its retractable hardtop in favor of a folding soft top. The issue here is that this leaves the two-door Mercedes S-Class with a friendly competitor from within the company.
If part one of the plan, axing the SLC and converting the SL to a 2+2 arrangement, goes through, expect the S-Class Coupe and Convertible to be killed off. Replacing that will be enlarged versions of the E-Class and C-Class coupes that will take care of segment sales in those areas. As complicated and unnecessary as these changes may seem to the outsider, Mercedes has been proving that relentless change and reinvention in preparation of what’s to come is the way to stay ahead of the curve and sell a lot more cars.