The microchip shortage is forcing Mercedes-Benz's U.S. dealers to start the 2022 model year without many of their most profitable vehicles.
Except for S580 and S580 Maybach sedans, no 2022 models will be available with a V-8 engine — for now.
"The semiconductor issue is generally playing a role in production, as some of the vehicles cannot be produced as originally configured," Mercedes said. However, the company did not disclose any further information about the delay, including how long it will last and how it might affect dealers' sales and profits.
"I'm optimistic that it isn't going to run through the 2022 model year. I can't imagine that it would," Jeff Aiosa, dealer principal at Mercedes- Benz of New London in Connecticut, told Automotive News.
Dealers learned of the cancellation on Aug. 13. No V-8 availability wipes out the heart of Mercedes' high-performance AMG line, 13 vehicles often favored by athletes, musicians and other entertainers. A total of 17 V-8 models are affected.
"The models they are talking about not having the V-8s are gross profit generators in significant ways," said Greg Barnes, president of Ussery Automotive Group, which has two Mercedes stores in the Miami area.
Dealers were told their orders for V-8 vehicles were canceled and converted to models with four- and six-cylinder engines. But that might not go over well with some customers, Aiosa said.
"A V-8 buyer is not the same buyer as a V-6 buyer, and even more so, a four-cylinder buyer. Clearly there's a concern about market share. Some customers may pivot because they are loyal to the brand, but some buyers may defect also," he said.
Halting most V-8 production comes as competitors are broadening their lineups to better compete with Mercedes. Land Rover, for example, is adding high-performance V-8 versions of the hot-selling Defender SUV. Jeep is launching the luxurious Grand Wagoneer, which has a six-figure price tag fully loaded and is available with a 471-hp Hemi V-8. Mercedes' G550 SUV was also pulled.