Mercedes-Benz Showing Future B-Klasse Range to U.S. Customers
There are three variants under consideration: a crossover, a sporty coupe and a sedan. They are based on the redesigned, front-drive B-Klasse platform and would be positioned below the C-Klasse. Sales are expected to begin after 2011.
“The first clinics have been done in the U.S. market. We are still at a very early stage. The design freeze has not taken place,” said Bernhard Glaser, general manager of product development at Mercedes-Benz USA.
Interviewed at a Mercedes event in the U.S., Glaser said full-sized clay models were shown to focus groups. U.S. dealers have made it clear they do not want a hatchback. The B-Klasse sold in Europe and Canada is an MPV-shaped five-door hatchback that American dealers say it does not fit Mercedes’ luxury image.
“They were concerned about the previous generation because it did stand out, and that is kind of a whole different brand sell that you have to try and jump over. This will be seamless,” said Mercedes- Benz U.S. spokesman Geoff Day.
Tommy Baker, chairman of the Mercedes-Benz dealer council and a Charleston, S.C., dealer, has seen the proposed models. He called the look “cutting-edge.” Glaser said Mercedes has not decided whether the cars would be sold under the B-Klasse name in the United States or have a separate designation.
Currently, the B-Klasse sold in Europe has only a hatchback variant.