There are just two Mercedes wagons for sale new in the U.S., the E-Class wagon and the AMG variant of that. In Europe they sell those cars, but also the C-Class wagon and AMG C-Class wagon. It sure sounds like in both places their days might be numbered. Maybe coupés and convertibles, too.
That is, at least, my reading of Autocar’s wide-ranging interview with Mercedes chief operating officer Markus Schäfer in Munich. Schäfer says, among other things, that one hill he and Mercedes would probably die on is always having a leather or wood steering wheel, which is a weird hill to die on, but you don’t choose what you love and one of Mercedes’ hates is plastic and artificial leather steering wheels. All of this is rather silly as Mercedes most lasting and enduring interior material is artificial: MB Tex.
Schäfer said that leather elsewhere in the interior would also likely stay, because Mercedes doesn’t like the vegan alternatives, but more relevant to an enthusiasts’ point of view, Schäfer also said that Mercedes is finding it harder and harder to justify selling wagons.
In an interview at the Munich motor show, Schäfer admitted that with “estate cars, we have to see. This market is under pressure as more and more customers move to SUVs, and there are just a few markets left for estates and station wagons. So we have to see how the volumes are developing. They’re technically absolutely possible – that wouldn’t be a problem – but it’s more a question of how this niche is developing. I know the UK is a great market for station wagons.”
Wagons aren’t the only possibly endangered species at Mercedes, though this isn’t the first time this year Schäfer has been waxing over the future of coupés and cabriolets.
Schäfer also admitted that Mercedes is looking at the future of coupés and cabriolets: “We have to recognise that the demand for cabriolets is dropping around the world – China is not a roadster-covering market and there are less buyers in Europe who decide on a cabriolet, compared to some years ago. But I think it’s a very attractive product and an emotional product… we will have to think about the coupé as well.”
But Schäfer was open that it’s not an easy task. “It’s not that easy to build a good-looking cabriolet [as an EV],” he said. “It’s an engineering effort - it’s quite a job and a task to keep it in nice proportions and not to lift it too high, with a big battery underneath it. There are some cars out in the market that would not meet our tastes. So we will come up with something better.”
Now, wagons possibly going away in the face of the world’s seemingly unquenchable thirst for SUVs is not the most surprising thing in the world, nor is getting rid of coupés, which have their defenders but always strike me as impractical at best and misproportioned at worst. But we’re also talking about maybe getting rid of convertibles, too, because Mercedes can’t figure out how to make a nice-looking electric one? If there was ever a job for Mercedes’ top people...