Paul Halata: M class will get a diesel.
Paul Halata, head of Mercedes-Benz USA LLC, said SUV-type vehicles will account for at least 25 percent of total sales. Last year, the final full year of the M-class SUV, Mercedes sold about 26,000 SUVs, Halata said last week at the New York auto show.
The company sold 221,321 units in the United States in 2004, according to the Automotive News Data Center.
The replacement 2006 M class went on sale this week priced at $40,470 for the V-6 ML350 and $40,220 for the
V-8 ML500. Mercedes-Benz's 1997 launch of the M class initiated the luxury SUV segment.
The R-class wagon, which uses the M-class platform, debuted at the New York auto show and goes on sale this fall. It will cost under $50,000, Mercedes-Benz announced at the show.
The largest and highest-priced of the three vehicles, a replacement for the G class, debuts in early 2006. Mercedes-Benz has provided scant details about the G class.
Halata said Mercedes-Benz plans to put a diesel engine in the M class within 18 months.
Because all three will be made in Vance, Ala., Mercedes can adjust production to meet demand, Halata said.
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