Baby GL-class Due - Mercedes-Benz Forum

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post #1 of 1 (permalink) Old 10-03-2006, 09:11 AM Thread Starter
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Baby GL-class Due

Mercedes hopes to attract younger buyers with BMW X3 rival

MUNICH -- Mercedes-Benz will target its forthcoming small premium SUV at the US.

The SUV is likely to be called the GLK. It will launch in 2008 in Europe and 2009 in North America and will be positioned below Mercedes' M-class premium SUV.

"The new SUV is a very interesting car for the US market," said Klaus Maier, Mercedes executive vice president of sales and marketing. Maier was speaking to analysts in Stuttgart September 19.

The US is Mercedes' second-largest market after Germany. The automaker's sales there grew 1.3 percent last year to 224,269 cars and SUVs. It was Mercedes' 12th consecutive year of record sales in the US.

X3 fighter

Mercedes wants its new SUV to compete against BMW's X3 in the US, where Mercedes has a younger demographic of buyers than in Europe.

Through August, BMW sold 20,472 X3s in the US, down from 23,409 during the same period last year, according to the Automotive News Europe Data Center.

Acura – Honda's luxury brand in the US – launched an X3 competitor called the RDX this summer. Through August, Acura sold 1,361 RDXs.

Cadillac, General Motors' premium brand, also is expected to add a small premium SUV within two years.

The GLK will be built at Mercedes parent DaimlerChrysler's plant in Bremen, northern Germany.

The SUV likely will be based on the Mercedes C-class platform. Spy photos indicate that the new car will resemble a smaller version of the GL class, Mercedes' recently launched large premium SUV.

To win the GLK contract against competition from Brazil, workers in Bremen had to agree to cut total production costs by €100 million. GLK production will secure jobs for 2,000 to 3,000 workers in Bremen.

German press reports said D/C had threatened to build the GLK in D/C's plant in Juiz de Fora, Brazil. The plant was originally selected to build an SUV called the ForMore for D/C's Smart small-car brand.

D/C canceled the ForMore project in April 2005 as part its restructuring program for the loss-making Smart business unit.

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