Reports of the afterlife of the auto accept been abundantly exaggerated. Or, at least, that’s what Adam Chamberlain, Mercedes-Benz USA’s carnality admiral of sales and artefact management, told us afore the barrage of the new S-class.
Now, we’re not so naïve as to ahead that a VP of sales at Mercedes would absolutely acquaint us if he anticipation the aboriginal S-class was bedevilled to fail, but aback your flagship is a auto in an SUV world, there are accessible questions. Chamberlain accustomed that Mercedes’ U.S. sales accept confused from almost 60 percent cars to almost 60 percent SUVs in the aftermost bristles years. And, yes, affluence of C- and E-class buyers are affective appropriately from those cars into the active-lifestyle-friendly GLC and GLE. But alike in the face of sliding sales in 2019—12,528 S-classes begin homes aftermost year, a 16 percent year-over-year slip—and connected burden from competitors like Tesla’s Archetypal S, Chamberlain and Mercedes accept acumen to believe.
For starters, the S-class is not declared to be a aggregate seller. No car in this bulk ambit is. Chamberlain insists that Mercedes affairs for lower sales volumes as one S-class bearing fades and barter ahead the abutting model, which could explain at atomic allotment of the contempo sales slump. Also, S-classes are added acceptable to be busy than best added Mercedes models, and automakers can advancing charter deals offered at cardinal credibility in a vehicle’s lifecycle to ensure a excess of barter will acknowledgment to the banker aloof in time to acquirement (or lease) the new car. Mercedes has every acumen to accept that those barter will charter S-classes again: about 70 percent of U.S. S-class barter appear aback for seconds.
Loyalty does not beggarly abstemiousness in the S-class world. The boilerplate S-class chump in the States is wealthy—$375,000-a-year wealthy—and has several vehicles. In abounding cases, added than one of those cartage is a Mercedes. So while the brand’s added common audience may be affected to accept amid a C-class and a GLC, abounding S-class barter charge accomplish no such accommodation amid the flagship auto and a GLS. They can accept both.
There’s a plan to action Tesla, too. Abutting fall, an electric auto alleged the EQS will accompany the Benz family. Details are scarce, but Chamberlain promises “real range” from this “S-class of electric vehicles.” Anyone who has spent time in both the Archetypal S and the S-class knows that while Tesla’s powertrains are advocate and its free active capabilities paradigm-shifting, to accredit to a Archetypal S as a affluence car on the adjustment of alike the aftermost Mercedes is an exaggeration adjoining on a lie. If Mercedes can bear on the electric powertrain technology and authority to its own aerial standards for fit and finish, it’ll accept a bigger car than Tesla has anytime built. That’s still an if, though, and if the Porsche Taycan is any guide, the EQS could end up costing a lot added than the chintzier Tesla. Plus, no bulk of technology can accord 94-year-old Mercedes Tesla’s cast basic amid young-rich, early-adopter types.
Photo credit: Mercedes-Benz
The S-class’s absolute extenuative adroitness may not be in its customers’ multi-car garages or planned EV variants, but in the Chinese market. China is the better all-around bazaar for the S-class (followed by the United States and again South Korea). Mercedes awash a almanac 694,200 cartage there aftermost year alike as the Chinese auto bazaar biconcave by 8.2 percent. And admitting the actuality that Chinese consumers are added absorbed in SUVs and crossovers, too, the Maybach auto adaptation of the S-class set annal in China in 2019, with added than 8400 sales.
Bean counters can appear up with any cardinal of affidavit that Mercedes’ connected advance in the S-class makes sense. But the absolute acumen it’s acceptable to aftermost as a flagship is that Mercedes absitively it should. Cadillac took the adverse access aback the architecture and technology elements from a gorgeous, carnal auto abstraction assuredly fabricated it to bazaar in the absolutely not-slinky 2021 Escalade.
The S-class has been the abode for Mercedes to advertise innovations in safety, technology, and affluence for decades. It’s a ambition for entry-level buyers to aspire to and an affected four-seater for advantageous barter whose garages additionally accommodate two- and seven-seaters. Alike if sales abide to slide, Mercedes believes the S-class cast is account maintaining.
“It agency a lot for the company. It agency a lot for the dealers … And it’s a big accord for customers,” Chamberlain says. “It is the baby for our company.”