Will the global SUV boom end? Not a chance, says Mercedes-Benz, which this week launched its newest high-riding model — the GLC — and is mooting several more additions in future years.
It’s no secret that, around the world, the crossover SUV is fast becoming the new default vehicle — in Australia, for instance, 34.5 per cent of all new vehicles sold this year have been SUVs — and like any brand worth its salt, Mercedes-Benz is answering the call.
Soon, perhaps in March next year at the Geneva motor show (or April’s Beijing motor show), Mercedes-Benz will premiere the GLC Coupe, a sportier version of the ‘regular’ GLC. Later this decade, it’s mooting something else, perhaps sharing the GLA’s small platform.
It all prompted the obvious question: when might the SUV boom slow down? The answer, given to Australian media at the GLC launch by member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG Thomas Weber, was clear.
“Never. Why should it?,” he said.
“The biggest trend around the globe is to SUVs. Why? Higher seating position, more freedom, independence also from tough road conditions, even though no customer would drive such an off-road route but nevertheless, if there’s only one weekend, or during winter time there is snow… for this reason there’s huge trend to AWD.”
Weber extended this point by explaining why Mercedes-Benz had spent so many euros making the GLC more than handy on the rough stuff — its advanced Off Road system allowed us to tackle a fairly hardcore off-road course with ease on the recent global launch.
“Only a small percentage of [performance car buyers] ever go to 250km/h, but the ability is what they buy,” he answered.
“If a car is designed for extreme situations, it’s clear it carries a lot reserve for critical situations… if we can demonstrate the car is able to go on these tough roads it’s clear there’s potential for long life — 300,000km — [which is] good for image.”
Asked if more SUVs lay in Mercedes’ future, Weber answered in the affirmative.
“GLA is really successful even if it’s a more coupe-oriented SUV… if there’s room for more in this segment, why not in next generation (not in this lifecycle),” he said.
“We could do more [car based on the next version of the MFA architecture used on the GLA, and four other compact cars such as the A-Class]. Seven, eight, why not? It’s more capacity and how fast can we rollout, and doing more than five in first lifecycle is nearly impossible.”