Mercedes-Benz has made a quantum shift over the past four years by rolling out five compact cars based on the same ‘MFA’ architecture — but the company says there's scope for even more iterations next time around.
Comprising the A-Class hatch, B-Class MPV (which premiered the MFA platform in 2011), GLA crossover SUV, CLA sedan and CLA Shooting Brake wagon, the front- and all-wheel-drive MFA family has succeeded in lowering the price of entry into the Benz brand, and as such has yielded a conquest rate of up to 80 per cent.
So successful has this downward shift been, the company is now contemplating whether it could expand its family of MFA cars to seven or eight derivatives come next-generation.
Indeed, it’s supply and logistics holding the company back, not demand, desire or ambition, according to a man who would know — Thomas Weber, member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG, who spoke to Australian media at the GLC’s global launch last week.
Weber broached the topic by wondering aloud if a second small SUV derivative alongside the GLA could work.
“If there is room for more in this segment in the future, why not?” Weber asked. “Not in this lifecycle, [maybe] in the next generation.
“We can demonstrate with our current platform a huge variety of five completely different vehicles, and it’s clear from an engineering point of view that we could do more — seven, eight, why not?
“It’s more capacity and how fast can we roll out, and doing more than five in the first lifecycle is nearly impossible… that’s a huge growth rate in the segment.”
The company sold more than 500,000 compacts in 2014, produced in Germany, Hungary, Finland (where it just added capacity) and Mexico depending on the car. Daimler also leverages scale by supplying the MFA platform to global partner Renault/Nissan, which is set to use it on the Infiniti Q30 and QX30.
The only thing to do is speculate — if Daimler was to expand its family of MFA cars from the next-generation, starting around 2018, what might it produce? The mooted second small SUV? A ‘conventional’ sedan version of the CLA, a la the Audi A3 sedan? A sub-SLK/SLC baby convertible and coupe? Could be all, could be none. But it's interesting to speculate.
Tell us your guesses below.