AFFALTERBACH, Germany -- Daimler performance subbrand Mercedes-AMG aims to double sales in the next three years by offering a cheaper product line to narrow the price gap with Mercedes-Benz cars.
The first two models from the new AMG Sport family will premiere at the Detroit auto show in January 2015 with further models to follow, the company said at a press event today here, near Stuttgart.
Audi has already implemented a successful strategy in this direction, offering the S-line that is situated price-wise between Audi’s base cars and the RS models built by its in-house tuner, Quattro GmbH.
“The A 250 Sport was the predecessor of the AMG Sport product line, we saw that it was successful and decided to expand this into a strategic business model,” Tobias Moers, head of Mercedes-AMG, told reporters, adding the new line could represent 30 percent to 40 percent of AMG sales in the future.
“Real sports car technology will become more accessible and appeal to an even broader customer group,” Moers said, adding that the subbrand will not water down its promise of top performance.
AMG expects to sell considerably more than 40,000 cars this year -- setting a new record -- because of a broadened model range that includes everything from the 115,430 euro AMG GT sports car, which rivals the 911 Turbo, to performance compacts such as the 355-hp AMG variant of the A class, which starts at just under 50,000 euros.
“In the next three years we want to more than double vehicle sales over 2013,” he said, referring to the 32,200 sold last year. “We want to be seen as being on par with the most successful German sports car makers.”
When asked how they could achieve this when the most famous of them all, Porsche, sells four times as many cars, he replied: “We don’t want to compete in terms of vehicle sales, that would not be realistic from today’s point of view -- we want to compete in terms of our profile and brand awareness.”
To further boost volumes, Mercedes will used the AMG Sport range to close the gap between Mercedes cars equipped with the AMG Sport Package trim level and the classic AMG models. Right now, customers who want a more sporty C class than the Mercedes-Benz C400 4MATIC have to pay 76,100 euros in Germany to get the Mercedes-AMG C 63, which is roughly 24,000 euros more.
In between those two will be the new Mercedes-Benz C 450 AMG that will debut in Detroit. It will be offered at a starting price of about 50,000 euros. AMG will also premiere the Mercedes-Benz GLE 450 Coupe at the Detroit show.
The AMG Sport cars will offer six-cylinder engines with increased output, all-wheel drive as standard plus special chassis and brake parts from the traditional AMG models.
Unlike the classic AMG models, however, the engines will be tuned versions off the series production line rather than handcrafted by one person in Affalterbach as is currently the case with the AMG performance cars.
The new models also will contribute significantly to lowering the carbon emissions of AMG’s fleet starting next year, the company said. In the last five years, CO2 has been reduced by 35 percent.
This is not just important for its European emissions targets, Moers said. “There is the possibility that China will legislate in the future individual emission targets for each product line [like the C 63 AMG], but we will have an answer so that we can guarantee that this won’t impede our growth,” he said.
AMG already has enough to cope with just meeting demand from China, let alone additional restrictions potentially imposed by the government.
“It went so far that we had to stop the sale of the A 45 for two months this summer, because we couldn’t keep up with demand,” he said, explaining that in China this is preferable to making customers wait longer for their car.
When asked whether its future emissions strategy could include alternative powertrains such as a plug-in hybrid, Moers said that in the coming years AMG will certainly offer a product in this direction given the desire by performance sports car owners to be socially responsible.