DETROIT — After the most thorough redesign in its 39-year history — and record sales in 2017 — the Mercedes-Benz G class is poised for even higher U.S. sales in 2019, Mercedes-Benz USA CEO Dietmar Exler says.
Helping to push the brawny SUV to new heights will be new versions of the popular AMG high-performance variants of the G class, Exler said. Product developers also will look to expand the G-class lineup beyond its core models.
"We will be curious and test the waters for special editions," Exler said this month at the Detroit auto show.
Mercedes chose the Detroit show to unveil the redesigned version of its base G class for the U.S. — the 2019 G550 model with a carryover 4.0-liter, turbocharged V-8 engine. It will arrive at U.S. dealerships this fall. Pricing has not been announced, but a "slight price increase" is likely, Exler said.
AMG variants will be introduced soon. The automaker has also sold AMG G63 and G65 variants of the G class in the U.S.
"The AMGs are not going to be far away," said Ian James, marketing manager for the G class. "In the more recent history of the G class, the AMG vehicles have been wildly popular, and it fits the image, the craziness, if you like, of the G."
The AMG variants will be available as part of the 2019 model year, James confirmed. Mercedes is expected to show at least one, likely the G63, in March at the Geneva auto show.
AMG models make up the majority of the nameplate's U.S. sales. Mercedes sold 4,188 G classes in the U.S. in 2017, up 6 percent from a year earlier and the first time the G class broke the 4,000-vehicle annual threshold since its U.S. introduction in 2001.
With the changeover to the redesigned version happening this year, another sales increase in 2018 is a "maybe," Exler said. But a "nice increase" is a pretty good bet for 2019.
"We'll see the biggest impact of the new model next year," Exler said, "because we'll have it for the full year."