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Does Mercedes-Benz have too many models?

Mercedes is focussing on its core products going forward, but could that mean a range rationalisation is on the way?

Mercedes-Benz has decided not to build its new-generation S-Class in coupe and convertible forms, but could more niche models be on the chopping block?

Speaking to journalists before the reveal of the seventh-generation S-Class last week, Mercedes-Benz boss Ola Kaellenius said the brand’s portfolio is constantly in review to see which models are still crucial.

“We have started to look at what’s the USP (unique selling point) of Mercedes? Where do we really differentiate? What are the cars that our clientele is looking for?” he said. “Get rid of the periphery and focus on the core.

“We have also made decisions where we say, ‘here are areas where we don’t need to spend money because it doesn’t pay into our future profitability in the same way as the more core activities’.

“But in terms of staying in the top technological game, we have not cut back.”

At present, Mercedes Australia counts 10 models in its passenger car line-up, the A-Class hatch and sedan, CLA (and Shooting Brake available overseas), CLS, B-Class, C-Class sedan, coupe, convertible and wagon, E-Class sedan, coupe, convertible and wagon/All-Terrain, S-Class sedan and Maybach, incoming new SL roadster, AMG GT sports car, and AMG GT 4-door.

On the SUV front, there are seven nameplates in the Mercedes stable – the GLA, newly-introduced GLB, GLC wagon and coupe, GLE wagon and coupe, GLS, all-electric EQC, and rugged G-Class.

Soon, the brand will also bring to market the EQS all-electric sedan, as well as a production version of the EQA hatchback, adding more complexity to the range.

However, it has also taken recent steps to trim down the line-up, deleting the BMW Z4-rivalling SLC roadster (formerly known as the SLK).

Also, of note is the Mercedes-Benz Vans range, which consists of the Vito, Sprinter, V-Class, Valente and Citan (available in overseas markets). The X-Class ute was recently discontinued due to slow sales, while the new T-Class is also on the cards to be revealed soon.

Mr Kaellenius however, conceded that Mercedes’ stable might have grown out of hand and hinted that more details could be revealed when the brand reveals its short-term roadmap at an upcoming event.

“I think in a beautiful garden, you always look at the flowers and decide what looks the most beautiful, and how do you trim your garden. Any business does that, we do that as well,” he said.

“Always to have this very sharp financial mind in the background and not just fall in love with product or technology for the sake of product and technology, I think is healthy.

“So yes, we trim the garden all the time, but with profitable growing in mind, and meeting our brand promise, always.”

Though no clues were laid out about which models or body styles might get the axe, the reason for the discontinuation of the S-Class coupe and cabriolet was cited as low volume.

In the same vein, the E-Class coupe and convertible could also be seen as niche offerings, but it is likely the entire SUV range will remain intact given buyers shifting preferences.