Mercedes answers dealers' pleas for more SUVs, crossovers
Dietmar Exler: “As the year goes on, month by month, we’ll get more and more trucks.” Photo credit: BLOOMBERG
NEW ORLEANS — Mercedes-Benz will distribute more SUVs and crossovers to its U.S. dealerships this year — answering dealers’ pleas for more inventory.
Dietmar Exler, CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA, told Automotive News that it’s early to estimate a total number or a percentage increase in trucks for 2017. But he expects the same pattern as 2016, where the U.S. brand leaders worked with parent company Daimler AG to increase truck inventory to the U.S.
“They supported us pretty well last year,” Exler said. “As the year goes on, month by month, we’ll get more and more trucks. They’re doing everything they can over there to crank up the number of trucks produced. I’m pretty sure we’ll get a fair share for the U.S.”
In 2016, the brand’s sales of luxury SUVs and crossovers rose 14.9 percent, while its car sales fell 11.4 percent.
Dealers particularly are crying out for more GLC compact crossovers. That vehicle was introduced late in 2015 and has been a hit. Mercedes has said it will add production of the GLC to a contract manufacturing plant in Finland in 2017.
With those plans to expand GLC production, U.S. dealers can expect to get “quite a few more than last year,” Exler said. It’s too early to forecast the degree of increase likely for the U.S., he said, but the additional production is “very, very much appreciated.”
For dealers who attended Saturday’s Mercedes-Benz make meeting here at the NADA convention, the expected boost in truck inventory is “good news,” said Ken Schnitzer, a Texas dealer with four Mercedes-Benz stores and chairman of the Mercedes-Benz Dealer Board.