Mercedes plots more SUVs after compact models expand luxury lead

Mercedes plots more SUVs after compact models expand luxury lead
A Mercedes-Maybach G650 Landaulet sport utility vehicle (SUV), produced by Mercedes-Benz AG, stands on display ahead of the 87th Geneva International Motor Show last year. The popularity of SUVs rewarded Mercedes with the title of top-selling luxury brand for the second straight year. (Luke MacGregor / Bloomberg)

Mercedes-Benz will respond to burgeoning demand for sport utility vehicles by expanding its lineup with more models, most likely in the fast-growing compact segment.

Britta Seeger, member of the board of management of Daimler AG, speaks at the Automotive News World Congress event in Detroit on Tuesday. (Andrew Harrer / Bloomberg)

SUVs paced an almost 10 percent jump in total sales last year, expanding the Daimler AG unit’s lead over BMW AG. Voracious appetite for the compact GLA and GLC crossovers made Mercedes the world’s biggest luxury carmaker for a second straight year.

“We see strong demand across our SUV range,” Britta Seeger, who heads Mercedes sales and marketing, said in an interview at the North American International Auto Show. “We have more ideas to add new products to our portfolio, though maybe not so much at the upper end of the SUV range for now.”

Daimler delivered on a goal to unseat BMW from its decade-long luxury sales leadership four years early, in 2016. The brand built momentum after refreshing staid designs and adding to its offering of crossovers. With the revamped A-Class sedan being unveiled next month, the overhaul of the company’s lineup will have come full circle.

“Globally, we’re very confident we’ll see a strong year during 2018,” Seeger said. “We’re optimistic for a strong year in Europe on the back of the revamped A-Class and a stable development on sales in the U.S.”

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