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The world might be quickly moving away from sedans in favour of SUVs, but Mercedes-Benz reckons there is still a place for the four-door car, and more specifically, its luxurious S-Class flagship.
“With regard to relevance, the three-box sedan in the luxury segment remains highly relevant,” he said.
“I’m super happy that we have the GLS, that we now have a GLS Maybach as well, so we have an answer on the SUV side, many customers want that.
“But the three-box sedan, especially in the upper-luxury segment, seems to be very, very solid. And many customers, especially business customers, they want to have that.
“I don’t see a fundamental shift away from that luxury sedan anytime soon.”
Last year Mercedes sold around 71,700 units of its S-Class sedan, accounting for roughly 3.1 per cent of its overall 2,339,562 volume.
Mercedes has not revealed global sales data for its GLS SUV, though admitted that one in every three models – or 783,700 units – sold last year was an SUV, which runs nine model lines – GLA, GLB, GLC, GLC Coupe, EQC, GLE, GLE Coupe, GLS and G-Class.
In Australia last year, just 209 S-Class’ were sold compared to 371 GLS SUVs – though both were in runout with the new-gen version of the former now just revealed for a 2021 launch, and the refreshed form of the latter launched locally in early 2020.
However, in China – the largest car market in the world – Benz sold about 700 S-Class sedans a month.
Mr Kaellenius said the brand has already forecast that the new S-Class will sell in high enough volumes to justify its development costs.
“The S-Class needs to make a profit, as does every single car in our line-up,” he said. “Whereas we absolutely love cars – they almost feel like our children – we are also cool, calculated businessmen.
“The new S-Class is not a marketing exercise as a hobby, it’s for us – from a business and profitability point of view – hugely important.
“The intelligence of an organisation is to evolve how you can create fantastic technology while at the same time, in an intelligent way, have modular structures and be able to produce several cars on the same line.
“I feel confident both about sales, but also the profitability of the car.”
The new-gen S-Class will hit Australian showrooms in the second quarter of next year, though pricing and specifications are yet to be confirmed.