Mercedes-Benz USA CEO: Company to Grow with B-Class and C-Class

Mercedes-Benz is looking to increase its sales in the U.S., but isn’t counting on its current lineup to do it according to Ernst Lieb, Mercedes-Benz USA CEO. The growth is expected to come from the company’s new family of small cars as well as derivatives of its C-Class sedan.

Mercedes-Benz is planning on launching a family of small cars in the U.S. based on its next-generation B-Class platform. The company recently brought design studies of three different B-Class-based vehicles to the U.S. gauge customers’ reactions. At least two of the variations were originally scheduled to make it to the U.S., but Automotive News Europe now indicates that all three variations -- a coupe, crossover, and sedan -- will cross the pond.

In addition to its planned family of small cars, Mercedes-Benz is planning new derivatives of is C-Class sedan. The next-generation C-Class set to launch in 2013 will spawn both coupe and convertible variants, and possibly others as well. The current C-Class will get a coupe model next year.

“Everybody wants to be Mercedes-Benz,” Lieb told ANE in an interview. “They are after us in the S- and E-Class segment. With C-Class, we’re sitting with a four-door sedan and not doing anything else. Now we will go into segments where [competitors] are strong.”

Lieb is referring specifically to BMW, which sells sedan, coupe, convertible, and wagon variants of its 3 Series. BMW also sells its 1 Series coupe here, which slots in below the 3 Series and will compete with M-B’s B-Class when it arrives. Unlike BMW, however, Lieb says Mercedes is targeting at least 15,000 sales annually for each of its B-Class derivatives -- BMW sold 11,182 1 Series in 2009.

Mercedes-Benz will bring four-cylinder power back to the U.S. with the next B- and C-Class cars. Lieb said specific engines had not yet been chosen, but that inline-fours will be available in each class. V-6 power is likely to remain an option in the C-Class, along with the V-8 in the mighty AMG model, and the B-Class will likely get an optional V-6.

Mercedes-Benz is hoping that the introduction of the new B- and C-Class variants will spur brand growth around 30 percent in the next five years. “If we want to grow, this is the segment [C-Class] that we have to grow -- and below it,” said Lieb. To do this, the company will price the new B-Class and C-Class aggressively, but still with a premium. The B-Class cars won’t be priced like BMW’s 1 Series that starts around $4000 less than the 3 Series.

Source: Automotive News Europe

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