Mercedes-Benz is to undertake an ambitious new model development programme over the next four years.
Having already launched five new models in the last few months, Mercedes aims to broaden its appeal and extend its reach into segments of the market in which it is not currently represented.
Ten new models are being introduced, none of which will have any direct predecessor. As a form of shorthand, Mercedes-Benz groups them under five broad headings – compact, mid-sized, full-sized, large-sized, and large SUV.
In the compact segment the most significant development will see the introduction of a new A-Class - a new model, which other than the name, will bear no resemblance to the outgoing model. Described by Mercedes-Benz as a “the pulse of a new generation”, it will be built on a new platform with front-wheel-drive and a new range of engines.
Revealed to the public under the working title Concept A-Class at the recent Shanghai Motor Show, the new A-Class is aggressively sporty in its design and interior appointments with some features that echo some of its senior stable mates in the Mercedes-Benz range.
The long-awaited new A-Class will go into production in the latter half of 2012 with first models scheduled to arrive here in early in 2013.
There will also be two additional new models derived from the new A-Class. Both will be constructed on the same platform. The first will carry the model designation BLS, first of these will be a four-door coupe with body styling inspired by the larger CLS version. Naturally more compact, it too will be equipped with front-wheel-drive.
The third new model based on the A-Class platform will be a four-wheel-drive premium compact SUV version, which you can expect to see here in 2014.
And moving up to the mid-size category, in which C-Class is a major player, two new models are planned. In addition, in the next segment up, one new model will be introduced alongside the popular E-Class range.
Moving to the top of the model offering, three additional models will take their place alongside the luxurious S-Class within the large-size segment, while one additional model will join the M-Class in the large SUV segment.
This new model offensive is seen by Mercedes-Benz as underlining its plan to grow market share and broaden its appeal beyond its traditional customer base. As one insider commented, Mercedes-Benz is “taking the stiffeners out of their collar” by designing cars that will attract a more youthful clientele.
Five new additions in 2011
Within the past year the German carmaker's model development has continued apace with five new introductions - CLS, SLK and C-Class coupé, saloon and estate variants. These have contributed to a nine per cent increase in sales worldwide. In 2012 the company expects to achieve record sales globally and to further its ambition to almost double output over the next eight years.
Here in Ireland Mercedes-Benz is looking ahead to 2012 with optimism. Against the backdrop of what forecasters predict will be a declining market overall (circa 75,00 or lower ), Mercedes-Benz is targeting an improved market share from a current year level of 2.1 per cent to 2.7 per cent.
Propelling this growth will be the introduction of three new models, all of which will arrive here during the first quarter. These are the new B-Class, available in January, followed by the new M-Class SUV and new SL roadster, with both arriving in March.
All new B-Class and M-Class models will be launched on the Irish market with increased levels of specification and prices reduced by 11 per cent and 15 per cent respectively.
The new B-Class will come on the market at €28,850 ex-works for the entry level B180 CDI BlueEfficiency. And the new M-Class makes its appearance with the M250 CDI BlueTEC at €69,900 ex-works.
The arrival of the SL will coincide with celebrations being held by Mercedes-Benz to mark 60 years of the legend that is the SL roadster.
Mercedes-Benz has also added many new enhancement to the standard E-Class specification for 2012. Valued in total at €7,000, the additions include full leather upholstery, a parktronic and park guidance system, heated front seats, media interface with audio streaming, alarm, 17-inch alloys, LED lights and an eco stop/start function. And even with these improvements, the sale price of the popular entry-level E200 CDI remains unchanged at €42,130 ex-works.
The S-Class too gets about €8,000 of specification added at no extra cost. And the S350 CDI BlueEfficiency version benefits from a drop in cO2 to lower VRT and annual road tax costs.
Ssales manager in Ireland, Ciaran Allen, says: “Buoyed by the most compelling model range and the most competitive prices ever in our history, we believe Mercedes-Benz can take a positive view of the year ahead and, to that end, there will be no let up in our efforts to shape our model offering, maintain competitiveness and develop our dealer network.”