NEW YORK -- Mercedes-Benz's AMG high-performance brand is poised for sharp growth, its global leader says.
In an interview at the auto show here, Tobias Moers, chairman of Mercedes-AMG, said global sales of AMG vehicles rose 40 percent last year to 68,875 vehicles.
"We're going to expand our portfolio to 48 different models by the end of the year," Moers said. There may be more, he hinted, saying that that means adding "at least" 10 to the 38 Mercedes nameplates with AMG variants.
Mercedes is also urging dealers to create dedicated showroom areas for AMG, and is beginning to test the idea of stand-alone AMG stores, Moers said.
"Stand-alone AMG showrooms are getting feasible worldwide," he said. "We are going to open up one in Japan, and we're having a discussion in Australia about that."
Dietmar Exler, CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA, said Mercedes sees AMG as a key profit center and wants to maximize its potential. Assessing AMG a few years ago, Exler said, the automaker concluded that: "The cars are awesome. The performance is awesome. We didn't do much to market them."
He said "about a dozen" U.S. dealers have dedicated AMG showroom areas with a distinct look. Mercedes hopes that dealers with strong AMG sales will follow suit.
"I don't think it makes sense to go over 100," Exler said. "It's voluntary. If dealers want to participate, we're working with them. We don't want to force dealers to do that. For plenty of them, it just makes sense."