GENEVA -- Mercedes-Benz plans to offer a compact car and a small SUV for sale in the United States but has not decided on the timing.
The hatchback car and SUV will be based on the next-generation B class that debuts in Europe at the end of 2011, said Joachim Schmidt, sales and marketing chief.
He said "a very stylish sedan" to be sold in Europe as part of the new four-vehicle B-class family also is being considered for the United States.
The U.S. launch schedule has not been determined because of uncertainty about the euro-dollar exchange rate. But Schmidt said the United States appears to be ready for a premium small car. A key to the B class' success in the United States will be offering an alternative-powertrain version, such as a plug-in electric or fuel cell, he said.
Later this year Mercedes-Benz will test a fuel cell version of the current-generation B class in the United States.
Schmidt said Mercedes is getting mixed signals from the United States as fuel prices have stabilized. He noted movement back toward light trucks
"The behavior of Americans depends on fuel prices," he said. "Nevertheless, we see a trend also toward fuel-efficient cars."