There are too many Mercedes to choose from, didn’t you know? Mercedes executives certainly do, and they’re taking steps to cut down on the size of the lineup. The aim is to avoid building multiple models in the same or similar segments that cut into each other’s sales. In this vein, AutoExpress reports that Mercedes will drop the C-class and E-Class coupe and cabriolets going forward, launching the new CLE-Class to carry on in their stead.
The brand’s offering reached almost 50 distinct models in 2020, and with the pending rollout of multiple electric vehicles in coming years, this number could swell yet further. In the convertible space alone, Mercedes offers convertible models in both the C-Class and E-Class, and also built the retractable-hardtop SLC-Class until the 2020 model year. Coupe versions of the C-Class and E-class are also available, offering consumers yet more to choose from.
It’s a market segment that doesn’t shift huge volumes, though Mercedes nonetheless considers it an important one to compete in for the sake of the brand’s image. Head of Mercedes Research and Development, Marcus Schafer, stated “We want to focus on these models. They have their niche and their purpose.” The CLE is slated to arrive in 2023, with Schafer explaining “There’s more to come on the coupe and cabriolet side in this mid-segment but it’s going to take a little bit more time before we can speak about it.”
The result will be that Mercedes will still offer the full-sized SL roadster, with the CLE slotting in as the mid-sized option. The former is reported to be built on a new AMG-designed platform, while the CLE will likely be engineered around the MRA-2 platform shared with the latest C-class and S-class models. With the latest C-Class shipping solely with four-cylinder engines, the CLE-Class could go much the same way. With the S-class also sharing the platform, however, a six-cylinder engine could end up in a top-tier model without too much difficulty.
Spy shots shared by AutoExpress show evidence of a two-door, four-seat CLE-Class convertible with a soft top roof, though it’s expected that a hardtop coupe will be offered as well. Having one model in this segment rather than three does make sense, making the buying experience less confusing for customers and greatly reducing the engineering effort required to design and support three distinct vehicle lines. It should help slim down the Mercedes product offering, even if it adds to the alphabet soup of already existing models.
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