NEW YORK -- The redesigned Mercedes-Benz E-class convertible will get all-wheel drive for the first time to help its sales in the northern U.S. The addition of awd means the nameplate's convertible sales could rival those of the coupe version.
The 2018 E400 convertible will go on sale late this year with a base rear-wheel-drive model and an awd 4MATIC model. Pricing is not yet announced.
"The 4MATIC should make a difference for us, there's no question, because customers in the Northeast want 4MATIC," said Dietmar Exler, CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA, during the New York auto show.
He declined to share the size of the projected sales increase or estimate the expected mix of convertibles within the E-class family.
Lutz Regelmann, head of E-class product management for Mercedes, said the convertible could gain on the redesigned E-class coupe, which will go on sale in June in the U.S. Both coupe and convertible will be offered in E400 models powered by a 329-hp, 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6. They will not be sold here with the base four-cylinder engine offered in the redesigned E-class sedan.
"The U.S. market is super important for" the convertible, Regelmann said. "We were just finishing our volume planning with the markets. In the U.S., we even took out some coupes and put the volumes into the convertible."
The assembly plant can flex between the coupe and convertible, he said, but the convertible looks to have the higher potential.
"If it's higher for the coupe, we are also perfectly fine as we planned in the flexibility," Regelmann said.
"But, of course, it's nicer to sell a convertible because the [profit] contribution is slightly higher than on the coupe."