At least four new models based on the Mercedes-Benz C-Class platform will be launched in the future, Daimler AG member of the board of management Dr Thomas Weber has confirmed.
The C-Class is the first Mercedes-Benz to utilise a brand new modular platform called MRA, which Weber calls the brand’s “largest and most important” architecture.
“With MRA … we are able to do more than 10 different vehicles,” he added. “All the vehicles we do in the C-Class will have successors, and of course we’ll add some vehicles in the C-Class.
“Some other options are available in the C-Class segment and the E-Class. MRA will carry a lot of cars.”
The outgoing C-Class platform has been used for the sedan, wagon and coupe versions of that model, in addition to the SLK-Class roadster, GLK-Class medium SUV and the coupe and convertible versions of the E-Class.
Even counting the sedan and wagon E-Class, which are partially based on the old architecture, that count totals only nine models – well short of Weber’s “more than 10” claim.
Weber confirmed that the SUV stable would see the biggest product expansion, with current sales of Mercedes-Benz SUV models totalling 25 per cent of total volume, which he forecasts will almost double by 2020.
“So far our portfolio is well balanced. The fastest growing segment when it comes to vehicle style is definitely the SUV segment. The SUV segment is growing.
“Today we have about 25 per cent [of total volume being SUVs], and we’ll definitely go about 40 per cent … or higher.”
Mercedes-Benz is targeting two million global sales by 2020.
Asked directly whether Mercedes-Benz is building a rival to the BMW X6, rumoured to be called MLC-Class, Weber replied “stay tuned”.
He spoke at length about the “sexy” styling of the GLA-Class compared with its competitors, and when further pushed about whether that differentiator could work for “sexy” spin-offs to the GLK- and ML-Class, he answered “maybe it goes in the same direction – why not?
“These coupe-versions, could they also be an SUV? Of course.
“What we see is a clear trend – on the one hand tough, hardcore vehicles close to vehicles like ML and GL; and a customer base more focused on design-oriented vehicle. This is clearly a global trend.
“There are opportunities and we are close to giving you details on an SUV.”
It is a certainty that Mercedes-Benz will provide coupe-like SUV models to rival the BMW X6 and forthcoming X4, but it is equally as likely the former car won’t be based off the current off-road-oriented ML-Class platform, but rather the C-Class platform, despite possible MLC-Class badging.
“Based on two main architectures [front-drive-based MFA and rear-drive-based MRA] 90 per cent of our volume is based on in the future,” tells Weber.
“The new MRA platform is even more flexible [than old C-Class] because more wheelbases are possible, the width of the vehicle can be differentiated.
“We can combine the different components of a vehicle based on the architecture – we can do coupes, SUVs, limousines, and so on, and maybe we can do vehicles we don’t know.”