Mercedes-Benz is planning to introduce new variants of the C class beyond sedans and wagons as it tries to capture new customers around the world. Mercedes will produce the model on four continents for the first time. It will start selling the model in Europe this month and the United States in September.
The carmaker expects the broader production network to help it become more flexible to consumer demand as it bids to bridge its sales gap with rivals BMW and Audi. Ola Kaellenius, Mercedes's sales chief, told Bloomberg in an interview that with C-class production sites in Germany, the United States, South Africa and China, they can offer tailor-made models for the different markets.
"The trend for further variety continues," he said. Mercedes, which was dethroned by BMW in 2005, intends to retake the premium-sales crown by 2020. The strategy has helped the Mercedes brand outgrow its rivals in recent months. The EUR35,560 C class accounted for around 25 percent of Mercedes sales and is considered a vital for the carmaker’s bid.
Mercedes has equipped the C Class with touchpad technology and an iPad-like display to appeal to younger customers. The carmaker has embedded technology from the flagship S class, like six radar sensors to improve safety features. The C class will also feature two front-end designs, a partially automated driving system and an optional surround-sound system.
"The new C class is more individual and versatile than ever before," Kaellenius said, adding that the vehicle "gives our competition some food for thought." Mercedes started building the C class in Bremen, Germany, last month.
Production in East London, South Africa will commence in May; in Tuscaloosa, Alabama in June; and in Beijing, China this summer. Its production at in Alabama will allow the carmaker to reduce waiting times for the model in the US by four weeks, thereby giving the brand an edge compared with its predecessor, Kaellenius remarked. [source: Bloomberg]