News - Mercedes-Benz - E-class - All-Terrain
Mercedes E-Class All-Terrain to usurp regular wagon
All-Terrain the only certainty in latest Mercedes E-Class wagon range for Australia
7 Dec 2016
By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS in Austria
MERCEDES-BENZ is on the verge of culling the venerable E-Class Estate wagon range down to just a single E220d All-Terrain model when the next-generation S213-series surfaces in about May next year.
With only the recently announced all-wheel-drive crossover confirmed for Australia, Mercedes is weighing up the pros and cons of continuing to field a large luxury wagon in what is a declining segment in Australia.
According to Mercedes-Benz Australia/Pacific senior manager public relations, product and corporate communications David McCarthy, offering the E220d All-Terrain is more in keeping with shifting consumer tastes, and might double the existing E-Class Estate sales rate from about 100 units annually.
“The normal E-Class Estate is unlikely to come to Australia at this stage,” he told GoAuto at the launch of the new model in Austria late last month.
“But we’ve said yes to the E220d All-Terrain only, because I think there is the potential to sell 200 E-Class wagons per year. Previous E-Class wagon sales averaged about 100 per annum. I think we could double that. Once people see the vehicle and look at the value equation, I think they’ll buy it. It is a very strong proposition.”
However, Mr McCarthy is wary that the regular wagon would be completely overrun by the All-Terrain as a result of the crossover’s SUV-esque appeal.
“The (regular low-riding rear-drive wagon) versions would make it difficult to sustain a business case in Australia, because we believe traditional Estate buyers would buy the All-Terrain anyway. It is becoming increasingly harder to sell large wagons at the prices they need to be.
“And that 100 per year is the minimum we need in that price bracket to justify compliance, training, parts, etcetera. Anything less than that, it becomes difficult to make a business case.
“It’s why Audi deserted it and kept the A6 Allroad. That’s why I think the All-Terrain is the best of both worlds.”
While the outgoing E-Class Estate is currently offered in three variants – E200 from $87,855 (plus on-road costs), E250d from $107,855 and E400 from $140,115 – the new E220d All-Terrain, powered by a 143kW/400Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel driving all four wheels via a nine-speed automatic transmission, is expected to cost less than $110,000.
A bigger-engined version with a 190kW/620Nm 3.0-litre V6 turbo-diesel is under consideration for Australia, though Mr McCarthy is unsure how the declining large luxury wagon market would respond to the proposed $140,000 pricetag.
“That would be significantly more expensive than what we’re looking at with the E220d All-Terrain,” he revealed. “We’re looking at $110,000 or thereabouts, while with the E350d All-Terrain, it would be about $140K.
“But just as we haven’t ruled out a non-All-Terrain E220d Estate, or an E350d All-Terrain, we want to launch the E220d All-Terrain first and see how it goes before we look at other options.”
Mr McCarthy added that there is still consumer support for the regular E-Class wagon, which has gained a strong following since the original S123 T-series Estate debuted in Australia in 1980.
“Each model has to have its own business case, but you also have to be mindful that there is a sizeable number of E-Class Estate owners that want to update,” he admitted.
“So we have to really think about this because we don’t want to potentially send our customers to our competition. We are very conscious ultimately of the consequences of dropping that model.”
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