The future of the Mercedes-Benz R-Class is in doubt after the German brand announced it is dropping the crossover vehicle from the always-important North American market.
Mercedes-Benz USA has decided to discontinue the people-mover-cum-wagon in response to US customers showing a clear preference for the company’s SUVs.
The R-Class has been the subject of speculation for some time after sales struggled to reach the company’s expectations since its launch in 2005.
The German car maker released a statement in the US saying there would be no 2013 R-Class model but that the crossover would continue to be assembled at the Tuscaloosa plant in Alabama for other markets.
Mercedes-Benz Australia has sold only 28 R-Class models so far in 2012, but says it has not plans to follow the US market’s move to remove the vehicle from its line-up.
“We’re not dropping the R-Class any time soon,” says Mercedes-Benz spokesman Jerry Stoumalis. “It’s doing [in the market] what we hoped it would.
“In the US they have a different product plan and a very different market.”
Mercedes-Benz Australia pared the R-Class down to just a single model in late 2010 with the arrival of a facelifted model, with the $93,295 R300 CDI short-wheelbase model joined earlier this year by a long-wheelbase R350 CDI variant that costs from $108,900.
Local sales increased 67 per cent in 2011 to 324 units.
Mercedes wouldn’t confirm whether a next-generation R-Class was in the pipeline, but the expectation is that the crossover will be eventually phased out.