Benz board member and head of research and development Dr Thomas Weber says the global popularity of the A, B, CLA and soon-to-launch GLA-Class cars has stretched production capacity. That's before the arrival of a fifth model based on the Mercedes-Benz MFA front-wheel drive architecture.
As reported first by Carsguide almost 12 months ago, this will be the stylish shooting brake take on the CLA, which is due here possibly by December. The A45 AMG has been the greatest victim of the compact line-up's success, with waiting times blowing out to 2016. "I know in Australia there is a lot of complaints ... they want to order the vehicle and we cannot supply it," Weber says.
He is concerned delays could force potential Benz buyers to look elsewhere for a new car but says the focus must be to ensure any Benz, regardless of the price, meets the company's quality standards.
"We are dealing offensively with the problems you are mentioning," he says. "When we launch a vehicle the key priority is quality comes first.
"The start-up of the Chinese plant (for compact cars) for their domestic market will free up other plants. Premium and mass market sometimes is a conflicting issue. Of course, we are quite happy to see this additional demand and we will take action."
Weber says Mercedes-Benz has learnt from the outstanding success of the compact car range and won't repeat the supply bottleneck. "Hopefully the C-Class, capacity wise, will be better," he says. "In a period of only six months we will have four plants under operation. We differ from our competitors ... our strategy is to launch cars globally."