Mercedes-Benz will shift its model proliferation into reverse in the coming years, according to dealers familiar with the company's plans. At least seven nameplates are scheduled to retire without a direct successor.
Speaking to industry trade journal Automotive News, dealers affirmed they learned these details directly from Nicholas Speeks, the CEO of Mercedes-Benz's American division, during a webinar. He didn't reveal which models will exit the portfolio or when they're scheduled to leave, but an anonymous source singled out the two-door variants of the C-Class, the E-Class, and the S-Class as well as the CLS and one member of the GT lineup.
"Do we need all of the products that we currently have? We also have to play our part in cutting our costs to meet our means," Speeks reportedly told attendees. His comments suggest the move is part of parent company Daimler's far-reaching plan to cut its annual costs in order to invest more money into electrification and autonomy.
The report adds credibility to earlier rumors claiming the next-generation S-Class won't be available as a coupe or as a convertible. Axing the two-door versions of the C and the E makes sense from a business standpoint, none of them generate significant volume. As for the GT, unverified rumor claims it's the four-door model that's getting the boot. Mercedes-Benz will replace it and the CLS with a single electric model due out later in the 2020s.
Although enthusiasts will undoubtedly dust off their digital pitchforks, dealers are welcoming the news like a well-stocked Christmas basket. Mercedes-Benz sells eight crossovers and SUVs, seven sedans (including the Maybach-branded variants of the S-Class), one wagon, four coupes, and six convertibles. Nearly all of these models are available in several flavors, meaning there are over 100 basic variants to choose from. One dealer drew an unflattering parallel between the company's range and the menu at a Cheesecake Factory restaurant.
"Reducing model proliferation is good. We've been asking for that. Whether or not seven models is enough, time will tell," summed up Jeff Aiosa, the owner of Mercedes-Benz of New London in Connecticut.
Mercedes-Benz hasn't commented on the report, and it hasn't publicly announced plans to pare down its range of models. Daimler is in the middle of a major transformation, though. It's hoping to save several billion dollars by cutting more than 20,000 jobs globally. It announced it will stop making sedans in the United States and Mexico, and it's selling the Hambach, France, factory that manufactures the Smart ForTwo; future models will be built in China. In an unexpected plot twist, England-based Ineos may purchase the facility to build its Grenadier SUV.