ORLANDO, Fla. -- Mercedes-Benz USA is promising dealers more advertising of the new R-class sport wagon targeting young families.
That represents a new focus. After five months of sales, Mercedes realizes that its target buyers are not older buyers or empty nesters, said Douglas Callahan, dealer council chairman. Callahan owns Helms Bros. Inc. in New York.
Mercedes hasn't provided specifics on new advertising but promises additional marketing support, he said.
Dealers also were told at the make meeting that the decision to bring Smart minicars to the United States hasn't been made.
Mercedes has said it is losing money on the brand, sold primarily in Europe, and reportedly has been seeking a buyer for Smart. Mercedes aborted plans to bring Smart to the United States last year.
DaimlerChrysler CEO Dieter Zetsche has said an announcement may be made this month at the Geneva auto show.
Dealers were reassured that Mercedes-Benz will not kill the Maybach luxury-car brand despite slow sales, Callahan said.
Paul Halata, head of Mercedes' U.S. subsidiary, told dealers that sales are expected to hit another record in 2006 but said it's too early to provide a detailed forecast.
Mercedes expects gains from the new S class and the GL seven-passenger SUV that dealers will see at a dealer meeting in Las Vegas scheduled March 28-29.
Dealers also were told that a dip in warranty claims for the second year in a row indicates that quality is improving.
You may e-mail Diana T. Kurylko at [email protected]