Due to electrification, some Mercedes coupes, cabrios and station wagons are in danger. What remains and what disappears from the future range of conventional models?
When Ola Kallenius took over the CEO position from Dieter Zetsche, he faced a bizarre situation: Mercedes was No. 1 in sales in the premium segment but was losing money. Kallenius changed his strategy and considered that being No. 1 is not the main goal but Mercedes should focus on profitable models.
Markus Schafer, head of research and development at Mercedes, also said he plans to reduce the number of internal combustion engine versions.
Further, Schafer said that this will involve giving up some versions, especially in the compact range. In agreement with Kallenius, Schafer said: “Priority is the substance of economic success. Every model must be profitable.”
What is the current situation?
Mercedes is in the midst of an electric offensive race and so far has managed to live up to all its promises of 10 electric models by the end of 2022: in addition to Smart EQ, Mercedes EQC, EQV, EQA, EQB and EQS are already on the market, the Mercedes EQE has already been unveiled, coming to market in June 2022. Meanwhile, the EQS SUV and EQE SUV are in preparation. The tenth model is the new smart SUV built together with Geely in China.
Mercedes developed a new electric strategy in October 2020 and invested heavily in two new platforms:
– EVA II dedicated electric platform for EQE and EQS and derived SUVs
– MMA electric platform, also capable of hosting conventional propulsion for the compact and middle-class range up to and including C-Class.
In July 2021, Mercedes revised its strategy and announced that it would develop three new dedicated electric platforms:
– MB.EA for E-Class models upwards, which is actually the successor to the EVA II platform
– AMG.EA for all models of the AMG division
– VAN.EA for vans and light commercial vehicles
From 43 to 37 models
To cope with investment in electrification, Mercedes began to reduce the ICE range: today there are 37 models in the catalog compared to the 43 that used to be available.
For now, the X-Class, S-Class Coupe/Cabrio, AMG GT Coupe/Roadster and CLS Shooting Brake are gone.
The X-Class was a failure from day one, as it was too expensive for a work pickup, and those who bought it as an adventure vehicle were too few because the Mercedes V6 version was much too expensive.
The S-Class Coupe and Cabriolet were sold in too small volumes and were starting to compete with the new SL, which switched to the 2 + 2 seat configuration with the latest generation.
The AMG GT Convertible also disappears because it goes into the territory of the new SL and in the future, there will only be the AMG GT Coupe version, which will be positioned higher than SL. Mercedes did not want to give up the SL legend and thus, the AMG GT Roadster could not find its place.
The CLS Shooting Brake was cannibalized by the new AMG GT 4-door coupe and was discontinued in 2018, when the third-generation CLS was launched.
Mercedes CLS could disappear in 2025
At the same time, the fate of the CLS is uncertain because Mercedes already has the Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door Coupe. It is a paradox if Mercedes abandons the CLS because this is the exact model that invented the four-door coupe fashion at the beginning of the 2000s. But its counterpart from AMG, even if it has a different rear, has generated stronger internal competition than rival coupes from other brands.
A possible new CLS in 2025 would compete with the AMG GT 4-Door Coupe, especially in terms of AMG versions.
And the existence of EQS and EQE with their aerodynamic shapes makes the existence of another CLS generation obsolete.
At the same time, a Mercedes EQE Shooting Brake is not in the cardsd because Mercedes will have the EQE SUV.
One coupe/cabriolet for two segments: C-Class/E-Class coupe and cabriolet will disappear
Mercedes will also reduce the number of coupes and cabriolets. After the disappearance of the S-Class coupe and convertible, the C-Class Coupe and E-Class Coupe will also be dropped and will be replaced by a single model, placed between classes as was the case with the CLK. Most likely, the successor of the CLK will also have a convertible version which will replace the C-Class and E-Class convertible versions.
The Mercedes SLC (SLK’s successor) has also quietly vanished from the range due to weak demand. This segment has dropped a lot and, for example, BMW has managed to offer a successor to the Z4 only entering into a partnership with Toyota to share the costs.
A very crowded compact range
Even more complicated is the situation in the compact class. Schafer stated that the compact range should be restricted. Eight different versions are too many.
For example, there is an A-Class sedan with short and long wheelbase (for China), as well the CLA four-door coupe. At the same time, the CLA Shooting Brake is not much cheaper than the C-Class Estate.
Also, the Mercedes B-Class, which has a demand only in Europe, sells in relatively low quantities. It could very well be replaced by the more luxurious version of the future Mercedes T-Class, based on the new Citan.
From another point of view, whoever wants today a more spacious car buys an SUV. So, instead of the B-Class, Mercedes has two offers: the GLA or GLB. Therefore, it is possible that the B-Class will disappear at the end of its life cycle in 2026. Also, the A-Class short- and long-wheelbase sedan could be out of range.
Mercedes is still thinking of putting something in the place of the B-Class and A-Class sedan: an SUV sedan (SUL – sport utility sedan). Mercedes introduced such a concept with the Maybach, but will expand it into the compact class. SUL could be an alternative to the A-Class sedan and B-Class and could attract both sedan and SUV customers.
The revamped compact range will be built on the MMA platform which, starting in 2024, will replace the MFA II platform. Because the MMA platform is designed for electric propulsion, but can adopt any other type of propulsion, the CLA can be offered with both conventional and electric propulsion because it has a very good Cd value.
The Mercedes T-Models are also in danger
In the U.S. and Chinese markets, station wagons do not play an important role and the declining European market is too small for such models to be very profitable in the future.
The Mercedes C-Class T-Modell is very popular only in Germany, while the E-Class T-Model has customers all over Europe. Currently, the new C-Class has a station wagon version but also an off-road version, the All-Terrain. Launched in 2021, the two models will remain in the program until the end of their current life cycle in 2028. We can possibly know, at this moment, what will happen next.
One scenario could be to offer a new T-Model based on the MMA platform in order to replace both the C-Class T-Modell and the CLA Shooting Brake.
The new E-Class will be introduced in the fall of 2022, will debut on the market in 2023 and will also be based on the rear-wheel drive MRA platform. Thus, the new EQE, which starts in June 2022, will appear just a few months before the new E-Class. Considering a normal life cycle of 7 years, the second generation Mercedes EQE could start in 2028 and the seventh generation E-Class, in 2029. Therefore, Mercedes could replace the conventional model with the electric one without problems.
For the new E-Class that will be presented this autumn, both the station wagon version and the E-Class All-Terrain will be part of the range. These would make their public debut in 2023, which means they could be offered until 2030 when theoretically, Mercedes said it would give up conventional propulsion.
The 35 models could become even fewer in the future. The compact range could be reduced to a maximum of 5 models, by replacing the C- and E-Class coupes and convertibles with a single model family, two more models disappear, the fate of the station wagons is as uncertain as that of the CLS.
Sure, the EQS SUVs and EQE SUVs will be added to the range, but it is clear that Mercedes cannot offer a completely separate electric model built on a dedicated platform together with a conventional model on a different platform in every segment. If in the case of EVA II and MRA platforms for models from E-Class upwards, this may work for a while, because we are talking about a high price range, Mercedes will have to optimize the compact range from 2024 onwards. The premium carmaker will then launch the new MMA platform, suitable for all types of propulsion.
Also, the policy of launching own AMG models that do not exist in the Mercedes range (see here AMG GT Coupe/Roadster or AMG GT 4-door coupe), to compete with Porsche, has also created internal competition and affected models such as the CLS/ CLS Shooting Brake or the SL. Important decisions must be made here as well.