In an interview with CarAdvice in Detroit, Dr Dieter Zetsche, the chairman of the board of management of Daimler AG and head of Mercedes-Benz Cars, said demand from markets such as China is set to reverse the declining trend for large luxury cars in the near future.
Nonetheless, he admitted that outside of AMG vehicles, V6 and V8 variants of Mercedes-Benz vehicles are nowhere near as popular as they once were.
“We have certainly seen and continue to see some downsizing as far as the number of cylinders are concerned. But at the same time we are seeing the growth of the Chinese market which is asking for a lot of E-Classes as well, so I think the segment of the E-Class, after some years of decline, will now be at least stable or growing.”
Apart from the stricter emission controls both in Europe and the United States, the decline of larger-displacement engines has been somewhat due to the increasing power and performance of four-cylinder engines, which are in most cases just as powerful as V6 engines when coupled with turbocharging technology.
“The large-displacement engines, less of them we will see, but on the other hand, the small-displacement engines are more powerful, they are turbocharged, some of them with hybridisation,” Zetsche said.
When asked if Mercedes-Benz’s solution to the larger-displacement engines was hybrids and whether or not V6 and V8s may eventually make way for more hybrid vehicles, Zetsche remarked that “to some extent, this will happen”.
This is perhaps a result of the stricter Euro 6 (2014) and Euro 7 emissions set to come into play over the coming years, which will make the after-cleaning of diesel engines more expensive and the need for hybridisation a potential necessity.
Meanwhile Mercedes-Benz is certain that sales of its rear-wheel-drive vehicles will remain dominant despite the company’s plans to produce five front-wheel-drive models on the current A-Class platform. So far the A-, B- and CLA-Class are all driven via the front wheels and another two models (including a rumored CLA wagon) are in the pipeline.
The company’s global head of sales and marketing, Dr Joachmin Schmidt, said that in terms of comfort and driving performance, rear wheel drive cars will remain a primary focus of the Mercedes-Benz philosophy with front-wheel-drive models just forming one part of the German brand’s line-up.