LOS ANGELES -- With consumer demand dwindling, Mercedes-Benz is questioning whether to continue offering diesel vehicles in the U.S.
Mercedes is working to get certification on a limited number of diesel models it had planned to offer in the U.S., Matthias Luehrs, vice president of sales and product management for Mercedes-Benz Cars, said last week during an interview at the auto show here. More rigorous testing procedures by the EPA in the wake of Volkswagen's diesel emissions scandal have delayed diesel certifications for Mercedes and other automakers.
But Mercedes' long-term outlook on diesels in the U.S. is shakier. The company is conducting market research on U.S. diesel demand to help guide its direction, Luehrs said.
"We have to look at that and see whether it makes sense to offer diesels in the future," Luehrs said. "We have not come to a conclusion but we obviously always tend to develop cars and offer vehicles according to customers' demands."
Dropping diesels entirely in the U.S. "is a theoretical option," he said.
Mercedes expects the first batch of results from its market research early next year, Luehrs said. He noted that demand for diesels in North America has been low "and is still lowering" for cars and crossovers.
With regard to the certification efforts under way on diesel models, Mercedes is "confident that in most of the cases" it will succeed in gaining approvals, Luehrs said.
Mercedes says its priority is securing EPA certification for the V-6 diesel in the GLS350d, a diesel version of the brand's large crossover. The company had been seeking certification for at least four diesel models in the U.S: the GLS, plus the GLC and GLE crossovers and the C-class sedan.
A Mercedes spokesman last month said the company no longer plans to offer the diesel C class next year in the U.S. That car had been slated to go on sale in the first quarter of 2016.