GENEVA -- The B class will not come to the United States because Mercedes-Benz cannot price the vehicle to make a profit, says the brand's CEO.
Mercedes-Benz in January decided to ax the B class from the future U.S. product range, said Eckhard Cordes, head of the Mercedes car group.
With the euro worth about $1.30, "we cannot make sufficient profit with this car in the United States," Cordes said.
If the euro weakens against the dollar, Mercedes might review that decision, he added.
Joachim Schmidt, executive vice president of sales and marketing, said the car has already been engineered for U.S. sale. "We can decide at any time that we want to bring it," he said.
In late January, attendees at the National Automobile Dealers Association convention were told the vehicle would be delayed at least one year. But at the Geneva auto show, Mercedes executives said they had made a more definitive decision.
The compact B class is a tall five-door hatchback based on the second-generation Mercedes A-class car. The B class is 168.1 inches long, about 10 inches shorter than the C-class sedan.
The B class was scheduled to go on sale in fall 2006 as the automaker's entry car in the United States. Before its delay, executives had called it an important vehicle in the company's new push for sport wagons and SUVs in the United States.
Mercedes wanted to price the B class below $26,000 in the United States. Anticipating the car's arrival, Mercedes dropped the C-class coupes from its model range late last year. The slow-moving C230 Kompressor sport coupe sold for $26,570 including destination.
The B class was supposed to be Mercedes' entry-level car in the United States. PHOTO: PHILIP MEECH
For years, the automaker has waffled over plans to introduce a car smaller than the C class to the United States.
As recently as mid-2003, U.S. Mercedes executives said the B class was developed at their request. The changes demanded by North America made the B class so different from the A class that product planners felt it needed to have its own model range, U.S. executives said.
Now that the B class won't be sold in America, Mercedes has no cars for the United States to compete with the Mini, Audi A3 or BMW 1 series, which is due in 2006.
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