New Mercedes-Benz CEO Steve Cannon has to prepare U.S. market for compact cars

Article by Anita Panait, on December 20, 2011

The first thing on the work list of Mercedes-Benz USA’s new CEO Steve Cannon is to get US dealers and buyers ready for compact cars that have yet to be launched in this part of the world. Mercedes-Benz plans to attract young buyers in the U.S. market by bringing in a range of A- and B-Class small vehicles within two years.

Daimler AG named Cannon as its US unit’s head following the firing of Ernst Lieb in October for allegations of ethics violation and misuse of company funds.

Cannon is part of a team given the responsibility to turn around the brand. He is currently Daimler’s vice president of marketing and will sit as Mercedes-Benz USA’s CEO starting on Jan. 1, 2012. "I have the real luxury of coming into a highly functioning organization. You could not say that five years ago," said Cannon.

Cannon became a part of the company in 1991 as executive assistant to the CEO of Mercedes-Benz of North America. He then served at Mercedes-Benz’s headquarters in Germany as part of a team working on the M class. He left the company in 2000 and rejoined in 2007.

Meanwhile, the Mercedes is closing in on BMW as the top luxury brand in the U.S. for 2011. The brand’s U.S. sales, excluding Sprinter and Maybach, hiked 12 percent to 219,491 units for the period January-November 2011.

The brand’s U.S. vehicle sales were also up 12 percent to 221,073. Cannon said Mercedes has closed the gap with BMW to around 1,600 units, but he’ll be content if the brand’s crowning as 2011 top seller "happens naturally." [source: Autonews]

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