We all know that an engine needs to be running on more than idle to really get anywhere. And this begs the question, where is Mercedes-Benz planning to go? The luxury automaker is reported to have big plans for small cars.
Mercedes has never had difficulty thinking 'outside the automotive box.' However, the motoring public did not embraced Mercedes' past involvement with Chrysler. Furthermore, drivers have not taken to Mercedes' past attempts at doing small cars.
Late this year, new Mercedes compacts will hit dealer showrooms. The automaker's strategy is to offer many models, many options, and much style.
Other automakers such as Toyota are reducing the number of option combinations and streamlining the car buying process. This reduces production costs and consumers end up getting better vehicles for their money. See my recent article: 2012 Toyota Camry: Smooth, comfortable, quiet, more efficient - a winner again! However, Mercedes seems to be driving in the opposite direction!
Some of the small Mercedes cars will be coming to U.S. dealer showrooms.
Mercedes will be offering a front-wheel drive platform consisting of seven models. They include two and four-door A-Class hatchbacks, an A-Class convertible, a B-Class wagon, a BLK crossover, as well as a CLC-Class four-door coupe and wagon. I believe that is seven!
I think that Mercedes is in deep seas and sucking in water and air. I do not think the automaker is fully aware of how to deal with the extremely competitive automotive environment of today and even more so tomorrow.
Do drivers want a small Mercedes? Do drivers want a big Mercedes? The other automakers have closed the gap with Mercedes. In the past, a large part of buying a Mercedes-Benz was the car's exclusiveness and high price. Others could simply not afford to buy it and (combined with excellence) this added to Mercedes' appeal.
The automotive ground has shifted. I opinion that Mercedes should continue building high-end luxury cars at a large profit even if in limited numbers. As for small cars, the automaker should build all-electric vehicles that are reasonably priced.
Yes, an all-electric Mercedes would be a 'small' car. However, such would likely enhance the automakers' image rather than detract from it.
I think that going to what I call 'the middle ground' is not the best option for Mercedes. At this point, the Mercedes can't afford to make another costly mistake!
Kyle Busch is the author of "Drive the Best for the Price: How to Buy a Used Automobile, Sport-Utility Vehicle, or Minivan and Save Money." He welcomes your comments or car questions at his auto web site: www.cartown1.com. Follow Kyle on Facebook and Twitter.