Mercedes is reportedly planning to reduce the size of its product portfolio in the US in a bid to take some of the complexity out of it, axing certain model variants, trim levels and engine options.
The German car maker has informed its U.S. dealers about its reduced portfolio plan during a national meeting in Las Vegas on May 8, AutoNews reports.
“We are going to see models go away within the next 12 months,” said one dealer who attended the closed-door meeting. “Within the next 90 days, we might see some of those announcements.”
According to people present at the meeting, Mercedes will eliminate poor-selling options and equipment packages while offering the most popular ones as standard equipment on certain models or adding them into existing packages.
Mercedes’ nameplates have nearly doubled in the US market since 2000, to 15 models. If you count in engine variants and body styles, the German car maker is currently selling nearly 90 models stateside.
But the inflated product portfolio isn’t a problem exclusive to Mercedes. BMW has also nearly doubled its US offerings to 17 nameplates over the same period, while Audi nearly tripled theirs to 14.
Premium German car makers have been in a “fragmentation arms race” over the last several years, which according to LMC Automotive’s president of global forecasting Jeff Schuster has begun confusing customers – not to mention the stress it puts on companies themselves.
“It has gotten to the point of being just too much to manage customer model confusion, vehicle logistics and manufacturing,” Schuster said. “Each of these models require marketing support, education at the dealer level, even service and parts inventory.”
Mercedes hasn’t told dealers yet which models are considered for the chopping block. We already know that the SLC roadster is going to be discontinued, but low-volume models like the S-Class Coupe and Convertible could also face the axe.
It’s a similar story for the C-Class Coupe and Convertible, which saw their sales tumble by 25 and 31 percent respectively in 2018, according to LMC. “Coupes and convertibles in the sedan segment are niches of niches,” said Sam Fiorani, vice president with AutoForecast Solutions. “Additional versions of passenger car models such as the S-class coupe are less likely to be replaced after the current generation ends.”