Mercedes-Benz USA is riding high, even though it didn't win the 2011 U.S. luxury sales crown, and will unveil its new management team's strategy April 9-10 at a dealer meeting in Chicago.
Steve Cannon, 50, who took the helm as CEO on Jan. 1, said he has filled key vacancies -- the last was vice president of marketing -- and "my new executive team will be addressing all the business drivers and our key issues."
"We will unveil our priorities in all the areas -- sales, marketing and product."
Cannon said he chose Chicago to tell dealers about the strategy rather than the NADA convention, where attendance "has dwindled for our franchise because we have two dealer meetings each year."
Cannon said he's confident that's the right choice because the brand's scores in the twice-yearly NADA dealer attitude survey are at a 20-year high. "We will work together with our dealers to jointly set the agenda for Mercedes. We won't be shoving things down their throats."
One of dealers' biggest criticisms of rival BMW of North America management is that policies and program changes in recent years were made without consultation or adequate communication with dealers. BMW was last in the latest NADA study measuring dealers' satisfaction with their brand.
Much of the focus of the Chicago meeting, Cannon said, will be the family of cars based on the new generation of the A- and B-class compact vehicles that have never been sold in the United States. Those models will begin to arrive next year. Cannon said he will discuss dealer training for the new cars and "for the most part, that will be the new management team's coming out party."
In March, Cannon will take the Mercedes-Benz dealer board to Germany and show new products through 2017.