The sideline is the safest place when car companies start a spat. This week, BMW and Mercedes-Benz are playing the serve-and-volley game.
The world’s oldest car company is happy because it has a new-model rush, starting with the imminent Maybach S600 flagship and leading to a total overhaul of its small cars — A, B, CLA-Class and more by the end of 2017.
Most importantly, the GLC — its SUV to sit in the sweet spot for families — is coming next year. It took a wrong turn when the original GLC, called the GLK, was built only in left-hand drive but the newcomer will make amends.
It’s always been our party, and we intend to keep it that way.
Which brings us to the SUV conflict with BMW, a long-term winner with its X5. The family now runs from the new front-drive X1 to the hulking high-performance X6M.
Benz’s just-introduced SUV coupe, the GLE Coupe, is virtually a clone of the X6. That’s not lost on BMW Australia boss Marc Werner.
When Benz makes its tongue-in-cheek claim on the GLE Coupe — “It’s fine to arrive late at a party if you bring a special gift” — Werner can’t hold back.
“They are late to the party but it’s our party, it’s always been our party, and we intend to keep it that way,” Werner says. “Yes, they are our colleagues, but this is business.”
He is bullish about the impact of the X models, which account for nearly half of all BMW deliveries in Australia, and particularly the X1 which finally has the boot space that the original lacked.
“Yes, it’s our party. And, with vehicles like the X1, we are confident we can keep it that way.”