STUTTGART -- Mercedes-Benz will launch coupe and SUV versions of its new compact car family in the United States in the next three years and is considering a third variant - a convertible or a shooting brake - to help win younger customers to the brand.
Joachim Schmidt, Mercedes' global sales and marketing boss, said in an interview with Automotive News Europe that the automaker is developing at least four models based on its new MFA, or Mercedes Front-wheel-drive Architecture.
“We will introduce the next generation of our MFA family to the U.S.,” Schmidt said. Two variants, maybe even a third, are planned for the U.S., he said.
The coupe will be launched in the U.S. in summer 2013, according to a company source.
Mercedes insiders call it a "baby CLS" because it will have similar styling to the brand's larger CLS coupe-styled four-door model. An SUV aimed as a rival to the BMW X1 will follow in summer 2014. Both variants will go on sale in Europe three to five months ahead of their U.S. launch.
Mercedes will introduce compact cars in the U.S. because consumer preferences are changing toward smaller vehicles. The automaker also wants to stay apace with rivals BMW and Audi. The new compact car family will replace Mercedes' current A- and B-class models, which are not sold in the U.S. In Europe, Mercedes will launch the next-generation B class hatchback at the end of this year, followed by the A class hatchback in late summer 2012.
Mercedes has no plans to sell first those two MFA variants in the U.S. but could do so if it sees a demand. The source said: "The U.S. is not the typical compact hatchback market but if the demand arises, we could react very quickly and introduce these two variants in the U.S. far quicker than in the past."
Entry-level Infiniti possible
According to Schmidt, Mercedes' new alliance partner, Renault-Nissan, is interested in using the MFA architecture for a new entry-level model for Nissan's Infiniti brand that would also be sold in the U.S., Infiniti's biggest market. Schmidt said Daimler is in talks with Nissan but there are “no decisions so far” on the architecture's application or where the car would be built.