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Mercedes line-up to top 40 by 2020

Future fund: Mercedes-Benz’s plug-in hybrid IAA Concept that broke cover at last year’s Frankfurt show might foreshadow one of the new models coming on stream in the next four years.

Increase of almost 30 per cent in Benz models to be driven by electrification

1 Apr 2016

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS in NEW YORK

MERCEDES-BENZ is planning to increase its model lines from 32 to more than 40 within four years.

Electrified vehicles will lead the charge as Daimler goes after Tesla and BMW’s i-cars with plug-in hybrids and full BEV battery electric vehicles.

“We have 32 individual body styles right now, and we have laid a plan going out to 2020 to go to slightly above 40,” said Mercedes-Benz sales and marketing director Ola Kallenius, who will soon be promoted to the role of head of research and development.

“We have another 10 or so new models that don’t have a predecessor that will come within our portfolio.

“A typical example is the GLC that is a wagon and now in a coupe – that’s two. But there can be also new cars in our portfolio.

“What we’re definitely going to do is heavily broaden our portfolio in terms of alternative drive – in different directions. If I start with plug-in hybrids, by the end of next year, we will have 10 individual models with plug-in hybrids – so the broadest portfolio of any premium luxury manufacturer in terms of number of plug-ins.

“We’ll have by the end of this year three electric cars in the market – the B-Class and two Smarts – and we’ve already announced last year that we’re working on a bigger electric car, which is going to come in the next couple of years, but we haven’t said what that is, but that’s already on the cards.

“Before that comes, we’ll launch a version of the GLC with fuel-cell drive, which comes around the end of next year and into 2018. And as we go towards zero-emission mobility, that bigger electric car won’t obviously be the only effort that we will have in that segment.

“So, beyond 2020, we will have the opportunity to do more variants around purpose-made electric vehicles as well. So that’s a very broad-based strategy, all the way from plug-in hybrids to fully battery electric vehicles.” Asked if Mercedes might run the risk of saturating the market with so many different models, Mr Kallenius said that the overall global market share is tiny compared to true volume mainstream manufacturers.

“On a worldwide basis we have a market share of only two to 2.2 per cent, so I think there would have to be a lot more growth before that would be a concern,” he said.

“In every segment you need to have an authentic Mercedes, and once you stay true to that, you won’t have a problem with that.” Not becoming too comfortable with its success is another way that the brand plans to stay on top of things.

“If you are on a strain of success, you should never become complacent,” Mr Kallenius said.

“You should stay hungry. Obviously we are staying hungry. We’ve come to this (NYIAS) show here with four world premieres where other manufacturers are not showing anything, and it is not through a lack of not having anything to show at previous shows at Detroit and Geneva.

“So we are in the middle of this product offensive, and we tend to continue that with a pretty clear path in the next four to five years.”

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