If you think the Mercedes lineup is complicated, don’t worry – Mercedes agrees.
Let’s say you’re in the market for a new Mercedes-Benz. Currently, the brand has 15 different nameplates — double what the offering was in 2000. While that mainly comes down to the rise in crossovers, the number of variants across those nameplates has also exploded. Now, Mercedes-Benz told its dealers that it will cut some of its U.S. models within the next year, according to an Automotive News report.
It isn’t difficult to see why. Take into account all the engine variants for each nameplate, and you have almost 90 models in total. A Mercedes dealer likened the model range to a menu at a Cheesecake Factory. “It’s 14 pages, and there’s a hundred choices on each of the 14 pages.” To that end, the company made an announcement to cull the range at a dealer meeting in Las Vegas. “We are going to see models go away within the next 12 months…Within the next 90 days, we might see some of those announcements.”
German automakers have been locked in a heated battle for years over reaching every conceivable automotive niche. Take BMW — where you have the 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and now 8 series, on top of an equally large range of crossovers. That’s to say nothing of the M performance models. Then there’s the Gran Coupes, where you have a four-door version of a two-door version of a four-door car, in the case of the 4 Series. Mercedes-Benz has split hairs to an equal extent, particularly with its SUVs.
“It has gotten to the point of being just too much to manage customer model confusion, vehicle logistics and manufacturing,” said Jeff Schuster, president of global forecasting at LMC Automotive. “Each of these models require marketing support, education at the dealer level, even service and parts inventory.”
That’s not to say Mercedes’ model expansion tactic hasn’t worked. The brand has topped BMW and Audi in sales for the past three years. But as the lineup continues to expand, the confusion will likely grow if the company does not drop the less popular variants.
What could be on the chopping block?
The Mercedes-Benz SLC-Class already met its maker. Mercedes announced it would discontinue the roadster after this model year, with sales figures just one-fifth of what they were in the early 2000s. The S-Class Coupe and Convertible variants could also disappear, as they are slow-sellers. The C-class Coupe and Convertible may share a similar fate.
Then there are the brand’s sedans. Mercedes-Benz has historically covered each segment of the market with the C-, E- and S-Class. Now, they even have the A-Class pitched at younger, entry-level buyers. However, the GLC, GLE and GLS crossovers appeal to buyers who may have bought one of those sedans a decade ago. The small GLB crossover is also slated to enter the U.S. market later this year.
With sales across the industry dropping and dealers retaining record inventory, it makes sense to spend resources where necessary.