German luxury powerhouse Mercedes-Benz, is moving to a three-pillar design philosophy for better differentiation of its ever-expanding model range.
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The world’s oldest automotive company believes that design variation between different types of models will be a pillar to successfully achieving its 2020 growth strategy of occupying the number one position in the premium segment in terms of brand, products, profitability and the all important unit sales.

Speaking to the Australian media at the Detroit auto show this week, the head of group research and Mercedes-Benz Cars development at Daimler AG, Thomas Weber, said that management decided to change the design philosophy under the guidance of new head of design Gordon Wagener.

Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class - 1

“We decided from more of a management [perspective, that] what we need to be successful in the future as part of our 2020 strategy is a new design strategy.”

He hinted that the similar-across-the-range design philosophy of some of the company’s direct competitors (notably Audi, though he didn’t name the company directly) had its share of problems.

“Now some of our key competitors see which problems they run [into] if they do each car with the same design language.”

The core of the Mercedes-Benz design philosophy is based on a series of ideals that the company has built its entire persona on over the last 125-plus years. Whilst keeping tradition in mind, the new design direction is aimed at modernising the brand for the future, helping to bring in an entirely new generation of buyers.

There will be noticeable differentiation between the looks of sporty, SUV and limousine (sedans, wagons) type vehicles, which will all share the essence of Mercedes-Benz design but portray their own unique character.

Mercedes-Benz E-Class - 1

This explains the bold design changes to the updated Mercedes-Benz E-Class range, which Webber says were necessary to bring the model in line with the changing design language.

“The E-class is of course still the heart of our brand, therefore it was key for the success of the heart of our family to bring these car lines into this new design philosophy. We decided to go in a new design direction, it’s always the case when you go from the old world into the new world, for some cars the changes are more aggressive”.

It’s unlikely future updates of Mercedes-Benz vehicles already in the new design philosophy would be so dramatic.

“Now all of our cars [are] built [as] part of our design strategy, I don’t know if as part of the future, it would be necessary to do such an important [design] step.”

Mercedes-Benz SUVs

The design changes go well past the exterior metal, with Mercedes-Benz having made the decision to revamp its entire thinking on its vehicle interiors.

“[We have a] completely new philosophy when it comes to [interior] materials and execution.”

Weber noted that every interior surface in the updated E-Class has been updated compared to its predecessor.

Mercedes-Benz S-Class

It’s logical to assume that the next-generation Mercedes-Benz S-Class will share many of the updated E-Class’ design characteristics, while sporty and SUV models will be further differentiated. The first true signs of this entirely new design philosophy are evident in the company’s four-door entry-level Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class, which is set to launch late this year.