Mercedes Sees The Breadth Of Its Domain, And Weeps For There Are No More Niches To Conquer

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The new Mercedes-AMG GT four-door is a style-conscious four-door coupe for those wanting a bit more than the usual E-Class. But that’s a car that Mercedes already sells: the CLS. Now that it’s doubling up on specialty cars, you have to wonder if Mercedes has run out of niches to fill. Amazingly, Mercedes kind of thinks it has.

Top Gear raised the question to Benz at the Geneva Motor Show, wondering if the company has realized it makes everything from economy hatchbacks to luxury six-wheel drive pickups and every kind of coupe-ified crossover in between. Benz boss Dieter Zetsche was remarkably self-aware about it all:

“Of course, every new car we launch has some ‘substitution aspects’ to the existing portfolio”, said the ever-affable German. “But typically we have a higher cannibalisation impact on our competition, which is what we are aiming for!” He cracks a broad smile from behind the trademark moustache.


Zetsche added that the company does believe that there are limits to how many models a company should sell:

“There’s a level of fragmentation where even the customer might get confused, and you’re not adding value any more, and to find the right balance there is certainly not easy.”


And he concluded that, desire or no, there’s not much else to look into:

“There are not that many niches left to fill, of course. But, we stay creative and innovative. I can’t tell you what ideas we will have tomorrow. But we have a pretty full picture.”


That quote about Alexander the Great, “when Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept for there were no more worlds to conquer,” that sounds so apt in this context is attributed to Plutarch but is probably from Die Hard. So I’ll add in one that’s actually from Plutarch that’s also relevant here, one that the decision makers at Mercedes should ponder: “Know ye not that the end and object of conquest is to avoid doing the same thing as the conquered?”