News outlets and fans have been buzzing like bees about the newest class from our friends at Mercedes-Benz USA, the 2014 CLA-Class. With its debut at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit and all of the commercials and releases coming out (just wait for the Super Bowl commercial with Kate Upton in it…), it is really no wonder why the excitement is spilling over in every direction for those loyal to one of the largest luxury automotive brands in the world. What does this really mean for the U.S. Mercedes market, and is this all a positive step for Mercedes-Benz USA?
The CLA-Class is one step closer for Mercedes to the small, super-compact vehicles that have been roaming the streets of Europe for many years. The popularity of the A-Class, their latest compact model, and the B-Class as affordable, reliable ways to get around (and the use of many more Mercedes models as taxis) may have finally begun to creep into the minds of American consumers. And with the increased demand for affordable, fuel-efficient vehicles in recent years, I don’t think Mercedes could’ve picked a better time.
Many Americans will continue to purchase the bigger SUVs and sedans for their capacity and performance, but the need for smaller, greener, more efficient vehicles is not lost on the average consumer. The CLA-Class is not a complete turn away from the current Mercedes vehicles in the U.S. market, but it is a step into a new market and the future for the company.
The vehicle will be roughly the same size as the current C-Class, but still performance and refinement based. The target audience is those in their late 20s into their 30s, a demographic that Mercedes has yet to tap into. With the proper marketing tactics and delivery methods, Mercedes could easily turn this vehicle into a gateway for future compact vehicles for their brand, thereby drawing in a more youthful base and generating lifelong customers at an earlier age than they have previously.
What this will all mean for the brand won’t be determined until the debut, but we can speculate already that it will be positive, for the brand and for U.S. customers. If this model succeeds, it could open our marketplace up to more models from Mercedes, which is always a good thing. It could also drive overall prices for Mercedes down, as demand for the less expensive vehicles would increase, perhaps bringing some of the other models into a more affordable range.
Whatever the outcome, one thing is for certain: this is going to be big.