Automakers were already streamlining and cutting costs on internal combustion cars even before the coronavirus pandemic hit. (The switch to electric cars won’t be cheap.) Now, the added financial pressure from the current decline in demand is pushing tough decisions to the forefront. Automotive News reports that Mercedes-Benz USA CEO Nicholas Speeks told dealers back in June that the company plans to cut seven vehicles from its U.S. lineup — with potentially more models to be axed as well.
Expect the cuts to focus on cars — specifically, two-door vehicles. The report says the brand is considering killing the coupe and convertible versions of the S-Class, E-Class, and C-Class. Also on the chopping block could be the CLS and one of the GT models, though it's not clear if that would be the two-door sports car or the four-door super-sedan.
Mercedes, as per the report, will also relocate A-Class and C-Class sedan production to locations outside of the United States.
This decision, while sad, isn't too surprising. Mercedes has a tremendously complex model lineup in the U.S., with more than 100 different vehicles if you factor in both body styles and engine variants. And while the demand for luxury SUVs has gone way up, the demand for luxury sedans, coupes and convertibles has fallen markedly. Every Mercedes SUV except the GLA saw a year-over-year sales increase in 2019; every Mercedes car saw a decline of 7.7% or more.
As such, it makes sense to offer more SUV options like the new GLB and pare down low volume sellers in the car lineup, especially in the luxury market. For an extreme example, look at Lincoln; it invested heavily in its swanky new SUV lineup while cutting its American car lineup entirely.
Long story short, the buyer who would have bought a C-Class convertible in decades past is now probably looking for a GLA or a GLC. There are significant numbers of buyers who still want an E-Class, but they are probably opting for the more practical but still sporty four-door version. Mercedes is just following its customers’ lead.