The location says it all: Mercedes boss Källenius is presenting his luxury strategy on the Côte d’Azur. “Class instead of mass” is the motto of the Swabians. However, all questions have not yet been answered.
Above all, Mercedes wants to grow with expensive luxury cars and thus earn more money. “We are a luxury company,” said CEO Ola Källenius on Thursday at an investor conference in the French town of Roquebrune-Cap-Martin on the Mediterranean. The realignment would also secure jobs.
Källenius expects that the number of rich people in the world will increase. Therefore, there are opportunities to sell more luxury cars. In China in particular, the prospects are good thanks to the growing standard of living of larger sections of the population.
The group had recently sold fewer cars, mainly because of the lack of semiconductors, but still earned better. The high demand combined with limited availability has been leading to higher prices for some time.
The manufacturer with the star wants to upgrade entry-level models in the future. There was no explicit answer to the question of whether this meant the end of compact cars in the A and B classes in the long term. “I’ll leave the rest to your imagination,” said the Mercedes boss only to journalists. There has been speculation in the media for some time about a possible end to the two classes.
Chief Financial Officer Harald Wilhelm said the new strategy will not trigger any restructuring in production. “We already have a high degree of flexibility.” General Works Council Chairman Ergun Lümali demanded that the German locations “must play an important role”. It is important to define the tasks for works. “Especially in challenging times, secure perspectives for employees are essential,” said Lümali on request.
The range of products at Mercedes will have three categories in the future. In the top range, vehicles of the luxury sub-brand Maybach, the sports car subsidiary AMG and the S- and G-Class with their respective electric and SUV offshoots are sorted. The core offer should include the best-selling models in the C and E class. In the entry-level segment with the cheaper cars, however, Mercedes wants to thin out: The number of body variants is to fall from seven to four, but the technology of the models is to be upgraded. As Källenius made clear, more compact cars are no longer necessary to meet CO2 emission targets. Even larger cars are becoming more and more electrified.
Källenius explicitly referred to the spin-off of the former Daimler truck business almost six months ago. Cars and vans are now bundled in the Mercedes-Benz Group. The carmaker had already signaled significantly more ambition for building its own electric fleet last year.
The head of transport policy at the environmental organization BUND, Jens Hilgenberg, criticized the strategy of Stuttgart. Large sedans and heavy SUVs are not sustainable luxury, not even in the E variant. What is needed, however, are cars with minimal energy, resource and space requirements.