Developing and launching ever more models was something Mercedes-Benz believed to be essential for both its financial and vehicle volume growth. That philosophy certainly worked at building market share and indeed profitability, though the cost of investment in next generation technologies – especially electrification – has been even more enormous than the Mercedes range of vehicles.
Now with demand for EVs cooling in certain regions – mainly North America – the idea of adding many electric cars to the Mercedes, AMG and Maybach line-ups is being adjusted but not fundamentally altered. This report explores what should be coming when, whilst also providing an overview of the joint venture relaunch of smart in partnership with Geely.
Listing every Mercedes-Benz passenger car, SUV or MPV demonstrates how vast the company’s costs have become just trying to keep each one up to date and eventually, replaced. Consider that this now comprises not only the A-, B-, C-, CLA-, CLE-, E-, G-, GLA-, GLB-, GLC-, GLE-, GLS-, S-, T- and V-Classes but multiple body styles within that line-up.
The roster of models is vast but remember these are also many electrics too: EQA, EQB, EQC, EQE Saloon, EQE SUV, EQS Saloon, EQS SUV and EQV. Imagine being in charge of product planning?
One of the most important developments in the next few years will be the rationalisation of certain models and the debuts of new architectures. Three months ago we saw the first signs of this in the form of the Concept CLA-Class (see image above). Revealed at the Munich IAA, this preview premiered Mercedes-Benz Modular Architecture (MMA).
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There will be four bodies for the next CLA, those being a four-door coupé, a shooting brake plus the SUVs which succeed the GLA & GLB. MMA is able to support IC power as well as two battery cell chemistries, i.e. certain cars can use lithium-iron-phosphate cells with a more dense silicon oxide anode design. Mercedes-Benz has disclosed that its Rastatt, Beijing and Kecskemét plants are being retooled for MMA models. An electric sedan to challenge the BMW i4 which is due in early 2025 will also be an MMA vehicle.
A couple of other models which are already electric have just had their mid-life makeovers, so the EQA and EQB (SUVs) should now have three to four years of production remaining. The same applies to the V-Class and its EQV derivative, both these MPVs having recently been facelifted.
A brand new model line is yet another vehicle which dealers will be thrilled to have rolling into showrooms, that being the latest E-Class sedan. An estate comes next, early in 2024. The CLE Coupé and Cabriolet can be thought of as the successors for the two-door cars. And China’s special extended sedans have also been renewed, the first two variants being the 150 kW E 270 L and 190 kW E 300 L. Interestingly, Beijing-Benz is to build RHD examples for export to India.
One more new model for 2024 will be the much-awaited electric G-Class. It may not be called EQG either, insiders suggesting that the company wonders whether customers can be perplexed by so many badges. At the same time, the G-Class will be facelifted.
In 2025/2026, the rationalisation strategy goes radical with the axing of not only the A-Class but the B-Class too. Not that Mercedes-Benz is any way withdrawing from the C/D segments – it will remain SUV-heavy in these size classes, concentrating on the better margins delivered by such vehicles. Plus there will be those four CLA cars.
Staying with the first few years of the decade’s second half, we will see a change for the EQS in the form of a new plant for the model. Shifting it out of Tuscaloosa/Vance and into Bremen may seem a big deal but moving this low-volume model to Germany frees up capacity for a new GLC. And that SUV will be an EV: replacing the EQC, the electric GLC is to be based on MMA so a retooling is coming for at least one production line in the big US factory.
There are now multiple models for the Mercedes-AMG brand, these being the CLE, GLA, GLC, GLE, GT Coupé, GT 4 Door Coupé and SL. This gives the division a nice mix of bodystyles, comprising not only the inevitable SUVs but two coupés, a sedan and a roadster too.
This year has been a busy one for AMG, with the arrival of the GLC and the end of the G 500 (after a final run of 1,500 vehicles) announced in July followed only weeks later by the debut of the GT Coupé during Monterey Week. The last of these is basically an SL with a roof and an optional 2+2 interior.
Valmet builds the GT Coupé at its Uusikaupunki plant, the car being launched in two forms. These are the GT 63 4MATIC+ Coupé (430 kW & 800 Nm) and GT 55 4MATIC+ Coupé (350 kW & 700 Nm). Each has a 4.0-litre turbo V8 and all-wheel drive.
At the Munich IAA in September – one month before GT Coupé production started in Finland – the GT Concept E Performance was revealed. This plug-in hybrid prototype looked similar to the 55 and 63 but had a charging flap in the rear bumper.
The production version should be called GT E Performance and share the powertrain of yet another Mercedes-AMG car which was announced just days ago. That one is the SL E Performance. Boasting a combined 600 kW and 1,080-1,420 Nm as well as all-wheel drive, this supercar has a (front-mounted) 450 kW and 850 Nm biturbo 3,982 cc V8 plus a 150 kW and 320 Nm motor on the back axle. Due to both weight and a battery with a capacity of just 6.1 kWh, the range in EV mode is a mere 13 kilometres.
Other fresh models revealed during recent weeks and months include the GLC 43 Coupé (mild hybrid) & GLC 63 S E Performance Coupé (hybrid). Formerly powered by V6 and V8 engines, now both the 43 and 63 are four-cylinder vehicles. The 2.0-litre turbo in the first of the pair produces 310 kW and 500 Nm plus a brief burst of 10 kW and 150 Nm from an ISG. In the 63 S E Performance it’s 350 kW and 545 Nm plus a 150 kW and 320 Nm motor with a 6.1 kWh battery for the PHEV system. Combined outputs are 500 kW and 1,020 Nm.
Further freshened models are the GLA 45 S 4MATIC+ which has just had a minor facelift with the outputs from its 1,991 cc four-cylinder turbo the same 310 kW and 500 Nm as before. This SUV is due to be replaced in 2026/2027.
The GLE 53 Hybrid 4MATIC+ and GLE 53 Hybrid 4MATIC+ Coupé facelifts were announced in October, their outputs being 330 kW and 560 Nm from a 2,999 cc six-cylinder turbo engine plus 100 kW and 480 Nm from a motor. System power and torque are 400 kW and 750 Nm, while the battery capacity is 31.2 kWh. Prior to the facelifts, the GLE 53s were mild hybrids but now each is a plug-in hybrid. Their successors are due in 2026 or 2027.
Next for AMG will be the CLE 53 4MATIC+ Coupé, the successor for the E 53 Coupé. To become available from 2024, it boasts a combined 330 kW and 560 or 600 Nm (standard and overboost) from a turbocharged 3.0-litre inline six-cylinder engine and a 48V mild hybrid ISG. Drive is to both axles via a nine-speed automatic transmission. And as for the life cycle, this two-door model should be facelifted in 2028 and replaced by an EV in 2031/2032.
In 2025, we should see a new model aimed at the Audi RS e-tron GT. To be based on the Vision AMG concept, this low-slung electric four- or five-door coupé will use the AMG.EA platform.
Partners Geely and Mercedes say they will continue their plan to strengthen the relaunched smart brand, adding not just new markets but many new models.
Having started with the #1 (hashtag one) in 2022, now the recently added #3 is gaining traction in China. Next comes the launch of this SUV in Europe, commencing in January/February.
As with the smaller #1, the new #3 is electric-only. In its entry grade Pro+ form, the RWD vehicle has a 66 kW battery and a 200 kW motor with high-margin Brabus versions adding a second motor for a combined 315 kW with drive to both axles.
Facelifts for the #1 and #3 should debut in 2025/2026 and 2026/2027 respectively, and their replacements are due three years later. But there will be far more news in the meantime, Geely and Mercedes noting they intend to add at least one additional EV each year until a range of six or seven vehicles is available by 2027.
A few months after the #3 hits the European region, smart will reveal its first MPV. And while the name is yet to be confirmed – hashtag two or hashtag four are naturally each in the mix – certain facts, such as 800V charging and the Pilot Assist 3.0 driver assistance system are confirmed.
In 2025 and 2026, smart should add two (or more) models, each highly likely to be an SUV, expanding the badging system from #1 through to #6, possibly even seven.