Merc sticks with trad engines… R-Class reborn… four-door coupe C-Class…

Mercedes doesn’t share VW’s conviction that take-up of electric cars will be widespread and swift. Sure, there are 11 new Mercedes EVs due for launch in 2019-2021, but there’s a major programme of internal-combustion development continuing in parallel.

A product-planning insider explains the thinking: ‘If EVs take off like a rocket in the next two years, Mercedes would indeed be caught off-guard. But we expect a more gradual transition.’ Compact cars being planned now are designed to be agnostic about their power source – similar to the PSA approach.

R-Class could return to stop posh Toyota getting all the action

R-Class could return to stop posh Toyota getting all the action

Running EV and ICE teams simultaneously is an expensive business, so savings are being made by reducing the number of low-selling variants in the line-up. For instance, there’s a plan to create one coupe to replace the GT 4-Door, CLS and SL Coupe. Sports cars, traditional hatchbacks and saloons are expected to continue their decline – although not all sales trends apply globally – while crossovers and SUVs continue to boom. Expect the next B-Class and A-Class to have more of a crossover and coupe bias, rather than remain purely as a tall MPV and hatchback.

The original R-Class was a heavy, expensive, poor-selling oddball. But perhaps it was simply ahead of its time, by more than a decade. A resurrection of the concept is being mooted, with China and the USA the chief projected markets. It would be a luxurious seven-seat cruiser, along the lines of the recently unveiled Lexus LM, itself a version of the Toyota Alphard (not sold in the UK). In other news from the land that taste forgot, a Maybach version of the GLS mega-SUV is also being considered.

The next-generation C-Class, due in 2021, is expected to get a new variant: a four-door coupe. It’ll run along the lines of the smaller CLA and bigger CLS, and take on the BMW 4-series Gran Coupe and Audi A5 Sportback.

AMG is reported to be working with Magna and Rimac on high-performance EV-only componentry for a variety of uses. And elsewhere within the Merc empire, development continues on hydrogen fuel cells, potentially expanding beyond the GLC F-Cell. The future is uncertain, of that Mercedes is certain.

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