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New York show: Mercedes says no to GLC Convertible
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29 Mar 2016
By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS in NEW YORK
MERCEDES-BENZ will not release an SUV convertible based on the just-unveiled GLC Coupe, despite rival Land Rover launching the Range Rover Evoque Convertible later this year.
While admitting that it came up as a possible niche in early development discussions nearly five years ago, the company dismissed the concept quickly, electing instead to leave the convertibles to the passenger-car range.
Speaking to the Australian media at the GLC Coupe’s international debut at the New York motor show last week Mercedes-Benz GLC chief engineer Michael Kelz said that the return on investment involved in beefing up the MLA architecture to take the strain of a roofless conversion would be difficult.
He added that it could not be retroactively engineered should the market take off for this generation of GLC Coupe.
“It is not possible,” Mr Kelz told Australian journalists. “To do a convertible out of such a car, you have to really change additional stuff on the body. The car was designed and is designed to be a lightweight car, to achieve good fuel consumption and so on. And you’d have to add more material into the floorpan areas and so on, so we said no.
“We had discussed it in the beginning. But finally the response from the marketers was really low, so in the end we decided to go towards the other cabriolets.”
Mr Kelz denied there was internal resistance to a Mercedes-Benz SUV convertible, especially in the light of Nissan’s recent failure with the Murano Convertible in the US market.
“It is never a step too far (for Mercedes),” he said. “We always discuss at the start of work on an architecture what you want to do, what you don’t want to do, and how you prepare the architecture for that sort of thing… and finally we saw in that situation we could not really sell an SUV convertible in such big numbers, and that it was better to go with the GLC Coupe, since for all the markets it is really a very good segment.
“We do have a lot of convertibles no doubt – we really are a convertible car company – but not for this one.”
The C253-series GLC product manager Axel Benseler said he believes it is too soon to take the plunge into the SUV convertible unknown, adding that it might eat into the market share of the brand’s other drop-tops, such as the C-Class Convertible.
“We don’t really see right now the segment being there,” he said. “We don’t hear it from the market that there is a need for it.
“And we already have roadsters and convertibles in our portfolio, and so then having another one as an SUV convertible would have just been cutting the same cake but in smaller piece.”
Land Rover will test the waters in the third quarter of the year with the convertible version of its Range Rover Evoque.
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