Mercedes-Benz U.S. New Model Onslaught Adds to Ultra, Entry Luxury Segments

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After Lexus dominating U.S. luxury sales for more than a decade, a surprisingly resurgent Mercedes-Benz is on the rise once again, but the brand isn't resting on its recent laurels after its hard-fought climb back. Mercedes is planning on refreshing or replacing 19 current models, and adding 11 all-new models to its U.S. lineup through 2020. Some may see this aggressive new product strategy as stretching the brand too thin, but Mercedes-Benz USA CEO Steve Cannon sees the brand's U.S. expansion as key to broadening its appeal among younger buyers, with Gen Y starting to come in to its peak earning years, and Millennials starting to get raises and promotions, making them key target customers for the brand. Until now, the C-Class was the entry-level Mercedes-Benz model for the U.S. market.

At a Mercedes-Benz dealer meeting in Las Vegas, Cannon said "In most cases, our expansion really provides us with an opportunity to talk to a new customer." Key to Mercedes' plans to appeal to younger customers is the introduction of its CLA sedan, a sleekly-styled compact sedan modeled after the larger CLS, but with a transverse powertrain. We've already seen spyshots of a high-performance AMG variant, reportedly with well over 300 hp. We've also seen an A-Class-based SUV, tentatively dubbed the GLA, another one of the 11 new models Cannon mentioned to dealers. Cannon also brought up a new C-Class convertible, giving buyers a less-expensive alternative to the E-Class convertible, which starts at nearly $60,000.

But Mercedes-Benz is not abandoning its higher-end customers either. Despite the discontinuation of the ultra-luxury Maybach brand in late 2011, Mercedes will offer an extended-wheelbase version of the next-generation S-Class sedan that will appeal to former Maybach owners and other customers seeking the ultimate in comfort and luxury. Cannon said the stretched S-Class would be a "really awesome alternative" to Maybach.

Source: USA Today

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