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The chief of Mercedes-Benz’s research and car development has conceded the company made a big mistake not offering its previous-generation mid-sized SUV, the GLK, to right-hand-drive markets such as Australia.

“In the first instance we were not sure if the overall volume was big enough and [there was] also complexity,” said Thomas Weber, member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG, told us this week.

“But of course with the success of the SUVs, this was a mistake, and if you recognise it a little bit too early then it’s not possible later to introduce such a version during the life-cycle.”

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Weber was speaking at the global launch of the brand new GLC, a C-Class-based medium SUV that arrives in Australia in December this year, and is tipped to become Mercedes’ second-top-seller locally. Read local pricing and specifications on that car here.

Mercedes-Benz Australia for years made no secret of its frustration at not having access to an SUV rival for the Audi Q5 and BMW X3, models that have ridden the recent SUV boom to sales glory.

Mercedes-Benz may irrespectively be Australia’s top-selling luxury brand, but it clearly missed an opportunity in not having the GLK (pictured below), which launched in 2008 when the mid-sized luxury SUV class was in its infancy compared to today.

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Year-to-date, the Q5 is Audi’s second top-seller in Australia, and the X3 is BMW’s third most popular model. Their success has clearly been noted in Stuttgart.

“From the beginning now it’s a clear commitment with sales and marketing, the right-hand-drive countries are getting more and more important, and why the hell we should miss those opportunities?,” Weber postulated.

“In the past we were heavily focused on Europe,” he added, but said this had changed to a significant degree. 

The GLC joins Mercedes’ rapidly expanding SUV family, and sits alongside the baby GLA, the new GLE (which replaces the ML-Class), the GLS (replacing the GL-Class) and the iconic G-Wagen.




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