Hoping to take some of the complexity out of a product portfolio that has proliferated in nameplates, model variants, trim packages and engine options over the last two decades, Mercedes-Benz told dealers this month that it will jettison some of its U.S. offerings in the coming year.
The brand's nameplates in the U.S. have nearly doubled to 15 since 2000. Factor in engine variants and body styles, and the luxury automaker sells nearly 90 models stateside.
Mercedes-Benz declined to comment on the plan that it laid out to retailers May 8 at a national meeting in Las Vegas.
"We are going to see models go away within the next 12 months," said one dealer who attended the closed-door meeting and asked not to be identified. "Within the next 90 days, we might see some of those announcements."
Mercedes also will prune the number of options and equipment packages it offers, according to people who heard the presentation, eliminating poor-selling ones while making the most popular options standard equipment on certain models or tacking them onto existing feature packages.
The Mercedes dealer compared the brand's product range to the voluminous menu at a Cheesecake Factory restaurant.
"It's 14 pages, and there's a hundred choices on each of the 14 pages," he said. "I need a Ph.D. to figure out what the hell I want. I just want a chicken Caesar salad."