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Benz plans bigger sales gap from rivals

Model behaviour: Mercedes' model onslaught continues with more stylish gear such as the C-Class Coupe, Cabriolet and GLC Coupe arriving over the next two years to keep its rivals at bay.

Mercedes says it will extend market lead ahead of key competitors BMW and Audi

22 Mar 2016

MERCEDES-BENZ Australia is preparing for an onslaught of new model lines over the next 24 months in a push to continue eclipsing recent record volumes.

The new model additions prompted Mercedes-Benz Australia corporate communications senior manager David McCarthy to boldly state its current sales lead over rivals Audi and BMW and the additions will only push them further ahead.

“Launching cars is a complex business (and) we’ve already got over 100 models in our range and we’re adding more all the time,” Mr McCarthy said.

When asked whether brand volume is expected to grow and assist Mercedes maintain its sales lead over Audi and BMW rivals, Mr McCarthy replied, “I think it will make our tail-lights less visible to our competitors.”“They’re very able competitors, they have great product, but we’re not just a one trick pony (and) I can’t see how those other brands will catch us. They’re in our rear vision mirror, they’re not in our blind spot.”

First up in the product onslaught will be the GLC Coupe, a fastback version of the GLC medium SUV, expected to debut at this week’s New York Auto show.

The new C-Class coupe and cabriolet arrive next month and late this year respectively to replace the E-Class coupe and cabriolet that have previously been based on the C-Class platform rather than E-Class.

That leaves room for a repositioned next-generation E-Class coupe and cabriolet, a Mercedes-Benz source has confirmed to GoAuto, which will sit between the C-Class and S-Class as an opponent to the BMW 6 Series.

The current E-Class coupe tops out at $130,510 for the E400 before on-road costs, while the 6 Series coupe starts from $177,900, the cheapest S-Class coupe requires at least $318,610 for the S500.

That line-up leaves substantial space for the next E-Class coupe and cabriolet, and an AMG E63 coupe and convertible is “definitely” part of the plan according to the source.

Officially confirmed models include the GLS due next month, the all-new E-Class sedan mid next year, and the facelifted CLA and SLC (facelifted version of the SLK) all lobbing late this year. This is in addition to AMG model grades, including the C43 coupe, sedan and wagon, and GLC43, late this year, and the E43 next year.

Mercedes has also said it will “definitely” do a 63 version of the GLC-Class medium SUV.

Mercedes-Benz sales totalled 31,895 in 2014, rising to 36,374 in 2015 ahead of Audi (23,088) and BMW (25,022). Of last year’s figure, AMG models topped 4000 units, and the brand expects that figure to hit 5000 or beyond this year.

“We will probably do 5000 AMGs this year,” said Mr McCarthy, who confirmed that AMG model grades not initially destined to wear Affalterbach badging will now be counted in the performance nameplate’s sales volume.

Mercedes has altered its naming strategy, renaming already officially launched products such as the C450 AMG Sport, which will become the AMG C43 for our market.

Despite the addition of sedan, wagon, coupe and cabriolet variants of the circa-$100,000 C43, in addition to the similarly priced forthcoming GLC43 and E43 sedan, coupe and cabriolet spin-offs, AMG volume will help increase growth, but not necessarily lead it.

“In 2015 it (AMG) was 13 per cent of our volume in Australia, I don’t see that changing, though as (total Mercedes-Benz) volume increases it will stay about at that level,” Mr McCarthy said.

Given these predictions, total Mercedes-Benz Australia volume should top 38,000 units in 2016 – a rise of around 6000 sales. To February 2016, the German marque is tracking 18.7 per cent ahead of 2015 with 6335 sales, placing it on track to top that figure.

Mr McCarthy said the GLC has “way exceeded our expectations” in what will be the medium SUV model’s first full year on-sale. It has become the leader in the SUV Medium under $60K segment, with 1123 sales for the first two months of this year soundly eclipsing the BMW X3 (664) and Audi Q5 (419).

Mr McCarthy added that the AMG C63 coupe due next month already has “a very strong order book, well into three figures” with the first shipments already allocated.

However he does not expect waiting lists to rival the likes of the AMG A45 when it first launched, with enough supply for the AMG C63 coupe expected for buyers to obtain a car this year.

“We’re fortunate in that demand and supply are pretty close,” Mr McCarthy said.

“For us the challenge is getting enough cars, getting the position right (and) making sure customers are aware of them.”

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