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Paris Motor Show

Mercedes will ‘not hesitate’ to cut unpopular niche cars

Mercedes to take a closer look at its portfolio. But is another AMG on the way?

Published: 03 Oct 2018

At the 2018 Geneva Motor Show, current Mercedes boss Dr. Dieter Zetsche admitted the endless fragmentation of Mercedes’ range into coupe-this and SUV-that niches was potentially confusing for the brand’s customers. At the 2018 Paris Motor Show seven months later, his successor-in-waiting told he’d ‘not hesitate' slimming down the range if certain markets start to dry up.

Current Mercedes R&D boss and future CEO Ola Källenius said: “We have had about 20 years of almost uninterrupted broadening of the portfolio, especially on the SUV side, if you look at how successful that has been over the years.

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“[Between] 2020-2022 this will take us to well above 40 models. And even if we love every one of our ‘children’, and we do, we must be very rational. We must not hesitate to slim down as well.”

However, before you pour one out for the slow-selling SLC roadster, fear for the SL when Mercedes has the more profitable AMG GT Roadster on its books, and wonder why Mercedes sells three loafing four-seat cabrios (C-Class, E-Class and S-Class) and two big, four-door coupes (CLS and AMG GT 4dr), hold fire on those eulogies.

“I do not think we’re looking at any radical trimming of the tree here” Ola tells Top Gear. “But, over the next ten years, we’ll look at the portfolio, look at what makes sense and cater it to where the market is going.” More SUVs and fewer saloons, we’d presume, if the US market is anything to go by. Ford’s pulled out of selling hatchbacks and saloons there completely.

Källenius then appeared to drop a hint of a future AMG standalone model, but nixed it just as quickly. First, he extolled the Euro-printing virtues of the AMG GT 4dr, saying: “The AMG 4dr GT, is for AMG, the perfect car. We had the SLS and the GT, but to couple that now with a business car or family car that you can take to the track, that makes AMG even broader.

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“Even though we have other [cars] in the Mercedes portfolio that are close [like the E63, CLS and S-Class], the customer feedback is they love the [GT’s] styling, it has true performance credibility, and interest like that, if done right, can be very profitable. So, let’s not rule out… creativity here.”

A palpable tension followed in the room. Referencing that AMG customers will pay big bucks for cars similar to existing models so long as they look hornier, sound rortier and go faster, could it be that another standalone AMG model would come next? An SUV, perhaps? Or a Porsche Cayman and Alpine A110 rival?

“We haven’t said that”, says Källenius firmly, pouring metaphorical cold water on any excitement of more bespoke AMG family runabouts or sports cars.

“Right now we’re very happy with the GT family of AMGs. That’s the plan for now, but let’s see what the future brings…”

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