HAMBURG, Germany -- With a technology-rich S-class redesign arriving this fall and several derivatives to be added by 2015, Mercedes-Benz aims to boost stalled sales of its flagship.
Still, Mercedes executives do not expect the new S class unveiled here last week to approach the peak volume of the current generation -- 30,886 units in the United States in 2006.
The S class still leads the large luxury sedan segment, but the entire category has taken a dip.
"The top of the luxury sedan segment has shrunk in the past few years and it's never recovered," said Michael Slagter, senior vice president of sales for Mercedes-Benz USA.
In addition, top luxury-brand sedans have more competitors, including top-end SUVs, Slagter said.
But while he did not forecast sales for the new S-class range, Slagter said they will surpass those of recent years -- an average of 12,215 units in the United States since 2009.
U.S. sales of the S class totaled 11,794 last year, down 4 percent from the prior year. BMW sold 11,098 7-series sedans in the United States last year, down 2 percent from 2011. And U.S. sales of the Lexus LS totaled 8,345 last year, down 13 percent from the previous year.
For the S class, extra volume will come from four derivatives that will be phased in by 2015, said Joachim Schmidt, Mercedes' global sales boss. They include a coupe, a convertible, an ultralong-wheelbase version and an ultraluxury sedan that will cover some of the elite ground Mercedes ceded when it killed the Maybach brand last year. The convertible and ultraluxury sedan are new to the lineup.
The United States will also get an all-new plug-in hybrid and a diesel variant most likely in 2014, said Thomas Weber, Mercedes' top product development executive. Weber declined to disclose details.
In September, the S550 debuts with a 4.7-liter V-8 direct-injection twin-turbo engine that generates 455 hp and 516 pounds-feet of torque. The all-wheel-drive S550 4Matic and S63 high-performance AMG models go on sale in November.
Pricing will be announced closer to launch. The current S550 has a base price of $95,905, including shipping.