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More Mercedes ‘niche SUVs’ to come

GL-Class action: With the success of its established SUV line-up and warm welcomes for its recent 'coupe' SUVs, Mercedes is likely to continue growing its GL high-rider family.

Benz marketing boss says SUV genre will expand beyond coupes and convertibles

31 Mar 2016

MERCEDES-BENZ believes that opportunities still exist for greater variations on the SUV theme, and is mulling future ventures into the fragmented segment, although not to the extent of passenger car niches, it says.

Speaking to GoAuto at the GLC Coupe’s world premiere at the New York International Auto Show last week, Mercedes-Benz Cars board member in charge of marketing and sales Ola Kallenius, hinted that there may be more areas within the SUV sphere to be mined.

While he confirmed that the wagon and coupe complete the model additions for this generation GLC family, Mr Kallenius said extra derivations for future iterations of the medium SUV were likely.

“In this current generation of the (GLC) platform, yes (there will be no more styles to come),” he said. “But rest assured that our engineers will not run out of ideas.

“There won’t be the broad number of variants if you compare it to a base model of a passenger car, where you can really branch out, but I think these kind of SUV coupes – a sports car/SUV blended into one – is an example where you can have niches that are also very successful.

“People are looking for maybe a more individualistic choice, like sporty driving but still with some utility, to drive something that not everybody drives.

“So there is opportunity there, and I think we can still find another area or two in the SUV portfolio going from top to bottom, where we can have very decent volume.”

Mr Kallenius said he is confident that SUVs will keep their overall upward trajectories, though there is still plenty of residual strength in the global passenger car market.

“I expect (the massive worldwide popularity of the SUV) to continue,” he said.

“So will SUVs eventually dominate you ask? It depends on the market. In the USA it has obviously overtaken cars. If you count the (SUVs) vis-à-vis passenger cars, it might be 55 to maybe even 60 per cent depending on the month in Europe I would say probably not, while in most other markets, the good old three-box sedan is still the dominant theme.

“But in China the growth rate on the SUVs is certainly a lot higher than it is on passenger cars. So the dynamic is pro-SUV.”

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