Mercedes-Benz is showing no signs of slowing down the rapid model expansion it has embarked upon in recent years, but it isn’t worried of somehow ‘watering down’ the brand.
Ola Källenius, Daimler AG board member and Mercedes-Benz Cars marketing and sales boss, told us this week at the 2016 Detroit auto show that the company was committed to taking its global range from about 30 models to about 40 over the next handful of years.
Mercedes-Benz has been showing substantial global sales growth in recent times — momentum attributed in part to its growing plethora of models, which has hardly dented its undoubtedly premium image.
These new models include a confirmed new large electric car with a circa-500km range due in 2018 — tipped to be a sedan — potentially followed by as many as three other standalone EV models (two SUVs and a limo, according to Car) designed to put Tesla in its place.
The company is keeping quiet on where it might go, though there are possibly plans to expand its ‘MFA’ small car family, currently comprising the A-Class hatch, B-Class MPV (which premiered the MFA platform in 2011), GLA crossover SUV, CLA sedan and CLA Shooting Brake wagon.
“As we grow from 30-ish to 40-ish, I’m sure we will have a few ideas,” Källenius said. This echoes what Mercedes development chief Thomas Weber told us last year.
The natural question to ask Källenius was how Mercedes-Benz expands its range by as much as 25 per cent without devolving into an ‘everyman/everywoman’ brand.
“One thing that’s extremely important is you have an authentic Mercedes offering in every class. An out-and-out Mercedes regardless of A or S. Stick to that principal you don’t run the risk of watering down the brand,” the 46-year-old Swede said.
He added that the company’s current global market share is about 2 per cent, so even a mythical 50 per cent growth would only give it 3 per cent. “[We are] a long way off too much volume,” he said.
“If it’s authentic, it works.”
Källenius reaffirmed what Weber told us last year — no plans for an Audi A1 rival.
“[We] won’t go below A-Class, not looking to cheaper segments with the French/Italian offerings,” he said.