Mercedes has long viewed the entire U.S. auto market as fair game, which means it is a place where it can offer “low budget” vehicles in addition to luxury vehicles. Some American drivers are unaware that Mercedes is much more than just a premium brand. Mercedes sells automobiles in Europe that directly compete with the Golf and the opulent VW Phaeton, just like its German rival Volkswagen. However, the psychological barrier of introducing a “cheap Benz” to America is one that parent company DaimlerChrysler is resisting committing to. Let’s examine the proposed B Class and the reasons why the design won’t be exported to the United States any time soon.
To begin with, the Mercedes A Class series of vehicles serves as the basis for the projected B Class. That tells you a lot, I suppose. In conclusion, the A Class is a well-known brand of tiny automobiles in Europe. The A Class would be thought of as the Volkswagen Golf’s logical rival if you were seriously considering buying one. The B Class, a little larger variant, utilizes engine placement and design better to create a vehicle that isn’t much larger than the A Class on the outside but is almost as capacious as the S Class is inside [when built as a wagon].
Beyond all of that, the B Class will have more standard equipment than any other vehicle in its class and be constructed with Mercedes’ electronic stabilization software. In essence, the B Class would resemble a Rabbit in size and feature all the standard Mercedes features and interior accents that Mercedes owners appreciate. Therefore, the average B Class vehicle would probably retail for roughly $25,000 in the United States, which is significantly more than the cost of a fully equipped Golf.
Published reports via automotive sites and blogs are indicating that the car may not make it to the U.S. due to several concerns. These include:
Cost factor. Mercedes suffered significant financial losses in 2005, and the firm is making every effort to quickly achieve profitability. Any car needs to be prepared for the American market, which takes time and money. DaimlerChrysler is reluctant to invest money in a venture that might not be successful right away.
Consumer perception. A very strong psychological aspect must be overcome first and that is consumer perception. While the Mercedes name adorns a variety of vehicle levels in Europe the name is perceived as “pure luxury” in the U.S. Mercedes remembers Cadillac’s attempt in the past to produce a budget Caddy [remember the Cimarron?] and how those attempts failed miserably.
BMW. BMW is also considering importing a budget model, the “1 Series.” Expect Mercedes to get serious about the B Class if BMW imports the 1 Series.
Only the sedan and wagon models would now be imported into the United States, while any hatchback versions would remain in Europe. If diesel power was readily available, the B Class might prosper as buyers flocked to vehicles that could get 40 miles per gallon. What is there about selling automobiles that isn’t dangerous? Introducing the B Class to the American market is one such risky venture.
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