Mercedes-Benz was being traditionally coy about whether its Vision SLR concept will go into production, but a decision is due in a few weeks, according to Joachim Schmidt, senior vice president of marketing and sales at Mercedes-Benz.
If the decision is yes, the super sports car could be on the road at the end of 2002, Schmidt said.
'The decision will be taken from the whole board within the next two months,' he said. 'I am very much for producing it, but nothing is decided yet.'
The Vision SLR would fill the supercar hole in the Mercedes-Benz model line and offer competition to Lamborghini and Bugatti, recently acquired by Volkswagen Group. Mercedes-Benz's previous Maybach concept would plug the high-end luxury niche to combat VW's acquisition of Rolls-Royce.
A Mercedes-Benz spokesman said, 'We can do these things ourselves. We do not have to buy the technology.'
Three possible manufacturing sites are under discussion: the Sindelfingen, Germany, plant, where the future Maybach will be built; the German plant of Mercedes-Benz's power branch, AMG; and a plant in the United Kingdom with Formula One partner McLaren.
If the car is produced, a volume of 200 per year is likely. The price target would be about $250,000.
The Vision SLR is powered by a supercharged 557-hp V-8 engine, and has a top speed of 200 mph. Other highlights at the Mercedes-Benz press conference were the North American launch of the new S-class luxury sedan and the fastest sport-utility on the road: the AMG ML55 version of the Tuscaloosa, Ala.-built M series.
Powered by a 5.5-liter, 347-hp V-8 engine, the ML55 can accelerate to 60 mph in under seven seconds. It will be introduced in North America late this year and then in Europe in early 2000.