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Small Is The New Big: Mercedes Bringing B-Class, A-Class To U.S.

 

2012 Mercedes-Benz B-Class

2012 Mercedes-Benz B-Class

2012 Mercedes-Benz B-Class

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With fuel prices remaining high, the appeal of full size SUVs and sedans is beginning to waver. American buyers are embracing the idea of small, fuel-efficient but well-appointed cars like never before, a trend that Mercedes-Benz hopes to capitalize on in the coming years.

Despite having mixed success with previous small car offerings (like the 190E), the current C-Class has been a hit for the German automaker. Mercedes-Benz believes the time is right to extend the range of small cars sold here, including models previously excluded from U.S. sales.

Over the next few years, American customers will get to choose from the Mercedes B-Class (although not the B-Class E-Cell Plus extended range electric vehicle) compact, the A-Class subcompact and a new range of C-Class offerings, which will begin production in Tuscaloosa, AL in 2014.

The first B-Class compact to makes its way to the United States will be a tall wagon, as shown at the Frankfurt Auto Show. It’s set to debut here in 2013, and will feature a four-cylinder turbo engine with direct injection and start-stop technology, paired with a seven speed automatic transmission for maximum fuel economy.

A sliding second row seat and a folding front passenger seat will give the B-Class wagon maximum flexibility for hauling passengers or cargo.

2012 Mercedes-Benz B-Class

2012 Mercedes-Benz B-Class

Enlarge Photo

Eventually, the B-Class range will include a small SUV and even a compact sedan patterned after the Mercedes-Benz CLS four-door coupe. Expect the B-Class vehicles to offer class-leading technology and safety systems, something buyers have come to expect from Mercedes-Benz across all price points.

Going smaller, the A-Class hatchback has been confirmed for U.S. sales as well. The concept version, shown in Frankfurt, is said to be nearly production ready, and to maximize manufacturing efficiency, the A-Class will share most of its drivetrain with the B-Class.

Expect to see a range of engine options, including a 210-horsepower four-cylinder mated to a dual-clutch gearbox.

Details on fuel economy and pricing are yet to come, but Mercedes has made it clear that it wants an extended product range to encompass more price points than ever before. Could a compact Mercedes be in your future? The company is hoping the answer is yes.

[The Car Connection]

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Comments (6)
  1. I wonder if it will hurt the brand image of Mercedes in the USA. You tell someone that you have a Mercedes and they are thinking it must be a really nice car, then you see they have some A-Class econobox and think, hey, Mercedes ain't what it used to be.
     
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  2. @John, that's a valid concern, but outside of the U.S. Mercedes doesn't always have an association with prestige. In Germany, for example, nearly all cabs are E Class Mercedes sedans (at least they used to be when I traveled there on a regular basis), the the company's product range extends across all price points.
     
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  3. Right, over in Europe, Mercedes is just a car. I spent some time over there.
     
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  4. John your concern regarding prestige reveals a lot about your own perceptions.
    In todays changing market prestige brands are all looking to appeal to the masses just to stay in business and appear green or user friendly. Potential customers will also associate perceived Mercedes quality when choosing their small offering over other brands. Anyone concerned with one-upmanship today buys an efficient practical green modern product not some twenty foot long three ton monster advertising their disregard for the planet and everyone else on it.
     
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  5. @Insight: What country do you live in? (I take it you're outside the U.S.?) I fear that your statement, "Anyone concerned with one-upmanship today buys an efficient practical green modern product," simply isn't true today in much of the States, much of Europe, and much of China.
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  6. @ John Voelcker.. Exactly my point..check the definition of one-upmanship..Collins dictionary/the art or practice of achieving or maintaining an advantage over others, often by slightly unscrupulous means.
    If the norm has been extravagant luxury and huge excess then choosing practical,efficient and sensible green personal transport makes a different statement.In the past this would have been considered a "fad" but today there are more concrete reasons for adopting this ethos and these far out weigh one's vanity in choosing a vehicle.
     
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