CARMEL, California — A certification slowdown means Mercedes-Benz dealers will have to wait longer than expected to sell the new E-class sedan.
In May, Mercedes-Benz USA CEO Dietmar Exler said the 2017 E300 models would be on sale in June. But last week Exler told Automotive News, a sister publication of Automotive News Europe, that the vehicles are still awaiting regulatory approvals.
“We’re pushing and working very hard with the authorities to get certification. The cars are on U.S. soil,” Exler said at a press event here. “We hope we get certification quickly. The process is a little bit more difficult to predict than it was in the past. But feedback is good, and, hopefully, it will go fast.”
Exler hopes approvals will come within a couple of weeks. A Mercedes spokesman said the plan is to launch new E class sales by the end of July. Demonstration vehicles — owned by the manufacturer, not the dealer — are at dealerships, Exler said.
It’s unclear whether the certification holdup is with the EPA, the California Air Resources Board or both. Parent company Daimler is handling the certification process, not MBUSA. The U.S. spokesman declined to specify which agency has yet to certify the vehicle.
Until the E class is certified, Mercedes-Benz is holding an undisclosed number of cars at its vehicle preparation centers in Brunswick, Georgia; Baltimore; and Long Beach, California.
Since the Volkswagen Group diesel-emissions scandal broke last fall, regulators are taking longer in general to certify new models. In March, Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche said the scandal had caused a loss of credibility between regulators and the industry that was, in some cases, tripling the length of the certification process and causing delays in the launch of new models.