Daimler is thinking about producing a compact Mercedes-Benz passenger cars with alliance partner Renault-Nissan, according to a report by the German business daily Financial Times Deutschland. No sources were cited. Renault-Nissan and Daimler became partners in 2010 for pool development and the making of small cars and engines. According further to the report, the first cars may be produced jointly beginning in 2016 in eastern Europe. It may have a compact Mercedes SUV produced together with vehicles from Infiniti, Nissan's premium brand. The B-class compact will be built at Mercedes-Benz’s plant in Kecskemet, Hungary.
It will start to produce the CLA compact coupe in 2013. The company aims to increase volume sales and to attract younger consumers by extending its lineup of compact vehicles from two models (the A class and B class) to five models with the addition of the coupe, SUV and shooting brake. IHS Automotive said that annual sales of Mercedes compact cars are predicted to hit 500,000 beginning in 2015, making up a third of the cars produced by the automaker then.
Last year, Mercedes sold 178,000 compact cars. Daimler's joint production with Renault-Nissan may help reduce the gap with BMW and Audi whose operating margins of 11.6% and 11.5%, respectively, in the second quarter surpassed Mercedes’ 8.6%. Metzler Bank analyst Juergen Pieper said that Mercedes is falling behind major rivals and has been facing a ton of pressure for the past year to report better results. [source: Automotive News - sub. required]