Mercedes may sell all variants of A and B class family in U.S.
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FRANKFURT — Daimler AG may sell all five variants of the new Mercedes-Benz compact A and B class family in the United States, CEO Dieter Zetsche said.
The first U.S. model will go on sale in 2013 but Mercedes won't say whether it will be the A or B class.
Mercedes-Benz unveiled the first member of the family — the next-generation B class four-door — at the Frankfurt auto show this week and said that model will be sold in the United States.
The second-generation B-class features an all-new four cylinder engine with direct injection and turbocharging, as well as a new diesel engine.
Mercedes said the redesigned B-class will be the most spacious car in its class and come equipped with advanced assist systems, radar based collision warning system and PRE-SAFE.
Mercedes plans to market the A and B class here to help meet more stringent fuel economy standards. The brand also sees an opportunity to expand sales volumes, though it isn't releasing sales estimates at this time.
Other luxury brands such as Audi, BMW and Lexus are also entering or expanding their small and compact model offerings.
U.S. prices were not announced; in Germany, the four-door will cost 26,000 euros, or about $35,500 in Germany when it goes on sale this year.
The new platform also is being used for a B-class four-door with coupe styling similar to that of the large CLS.
The platform also will be used for a station wagon, an SUV and the smaller A-class five-door, said Joerg Prigl, vice president for Mercedes-Benz and Smart front-wheel and electric vehicles.
All of the compact cars will have four-cylinder gasoline and diesel engines ranging in size from 1.6 liters to 2.0 liters, said Prigl. The 1.6-liter powerplant could be adapted for the United States, but the United States won't get diesel engines, he said.
The United States also won't get a plug-in hybrid version of the B-class shown in concept form as the E-Cell Plus, which has a three-cylinder engine and an electric motor, Prigl said.
Four-wheel drive is likely, especially for models with the larger 2.0-liter engines, Prigl said. Horsepower could be boosted to more than 300 with supercharging, making a six-cylinder engine unnecessary, he said.
The A and B class will borrow technology from the larger C and E class cars, such as warning systems when the vehicle leaves its lane, Prigl said.
"The A and B class cars start now," he said. "We will fire an attack in this segment beginning now and for the next two to three years. Every year we will push at least one model onto the market."
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