Mercedes-Benz has decided to keep the 26-year-old G class SUV in production after 2006 because of solid demand for the massive vehicle.
The 5,545-pound G class, formerly named the Gelaendewagen, is based on a military vehicle. It was launched in 1979, and was scheduled to disappear in the 2007 model year, when a new full-sized SUV is launched.
"We found there is still demand for it," a Mercedes-Benz USA spokesman said last week.
U.S. sales totaled 1,491 units in 2004 and are running at a slightly slower pace this year. Sales through October totaled 1,088, down 8.4 percent from the year-ago period.
The 2005 G500 is $81,675 including shipping, while the AMG G55 version, powered by a 469-hp supercharged 5.5-liter V-8, is priced at $105,275 including shipping.
Mercedes has not introduced a 2006 G class.
The spokesman said Mercedes has not decided on future engine configurations for the G class or if both the G55 and G500 versions are needed.
"We are investigating the possibility of a diesel powerplant in it," the spokesman said.
The decision to keep producing the G class means the full-sized SUV scheduled for the 2007 model year likely will be called the GL. It will be produced in Vance, Ala., alongside the M-class SUV.
The G class will continue to be built by Magna Steyr in Graz, Austria. The plant has turned out more than 185,000 units since production began.
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