March 9, 2010

B Patient? Frankly, B Skeptical. Mercedes B-Class 2.0 To The US

Woo-hoo! Finally! America is getting the Mercedes B-Class, the sporty, luxury car designed specifically for young, urban families!

Oh, but not this one, the next-gen B-Class, slated for 2011. And even then, not really. Here's how Autoblog really nails it down:

..we've been hearing rumblings for quite some time that one of these models might make its way Stateside before too long. Those rumors continue today with this report from Automotive News, which suggests that a compact car and a small SUV may soon be in the offing in the U.S.
Mhmm. Nice hustle. But that Automotive News story from Geneva is at once more specific and more obvious about what MBUSA's really planning: nothing:
[Sales & Marketing head Joachim Schimidt] said "a very stylish sedan" to be sold in Europe as part of the new four-vehicle B-class family also is being considered for the United States.

The U.S. launch schedule has not been determined because of uncertainty about the euro-dollar exchange rate. But Schmidt said the United States appears to be ready for a premium small car. A key to the B class' success in the United States will be offering an alternative-powertrain version, such as a plug-in electric or fuel cell, he said.

So a Mercedes competitor to the 3-series sedan and X3. But only if the exchange rate, fuel prices, and plug-in/fuel cell stars align? Please tell me where I can send my deposit check.

These are the same, lame contingencies Mercedes has been using since MBUSA dumped the original B-Class from its lineup in 2005. In fact, the "oh, maybe we'll get a US-specific redesign 2-3 years from now" line was trotted out [doing the math] 2-3 years ago [!] in 2007.

As the wild success of the Smart demonstrates, MBUSA would rather dick around for 10 years, then finally relent, and release an obsolete, mediocre oddity rather than let a real city car intrude on their suburban mall-trawling lineup.

Me, I've given up. Instead, I've started scouting for a low-km 1997 A-Class I can import myself when the DOT/EPA exemption kicks in in 2022.

Uh, no: Report: Mercedes to launch B-Class-based hatchback, CUV in U.S. [autoblog via dt reader george ]
Mercedes plans U.S. small car, SUV []
Previously: BCB: It's short for B-Class BS


I think Mercedes already has competitors for the 3 series and X3. It's the C Class and the GLK. (The GLK absolutely destroys the X3 which is probably the most out-of-date small SUV still in production.)
All discussions about exchange rates and fuel costs aside, the real questions for MB is how low can they go on the food chain and still place the product in the showroom next to $100K+ sedans and sports cars. Not sure there's much evidence that this can be done successfully. The Audi A3 has not been a huge sales success. The BMW 1 series might be but I think that's being positioned more as an entry level sports sedan than as a small, fuel efficient, family vehicle. I'd love to see the B series here. More choices for consumers is always a good thing. But I can see why MB might be cautious.

Never going to happen. Never, never, never. You know how they say "never say never"? I'M SAYIN' NEVER!
This is basically a nicer Honda Fit or Mazda 5. Are you going to pay a 15-20k premium over those cars?
I thought not.

Mercedes? Sorry, but the BMW 328 Sport Wagons are really the small family cars that will make Daddy happy. Two years ago, a fellow BMW Car Club member won every autocross event in his 325 Sport Wagon.

in the MBUSA office somewhere, there's probably a guy saying exactly that, and pointing to Canada, where they've sold like 1000 B-Classes at $45k in five years.

I'm past the point of thinking "The Problem With The B-Class" is that the don't bring it to the US; The Problem is that it's not a great car.

The 3series BMW is by no means a family car. They basically forgot to design it with a trunk. The really small trunk of the 3series touring (or Sports Wagon for you mericans) is just 10cm deeper than that of Audi A3 ... which is a freaking compact and built on basis of the VW Golf.

For 1, don't trust anything AN prints about future product. They're always wrong.

2. This won't be hitting the states.

3. The Smart was only wildly successful when gas prices were high. Now they can't crack the 1,000/month in terms of sales. they sold 442 last month.

'Looking forward to the Accord Touring, AKA Acura something or other, this fall, myself.

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