Mercedes-Benz Sets Impressive U.S. Goal

Wall Street Journal

Lux­u­ry-car brand Mer­cedes-Benz is dou­bling down on expan­sion in the U.S. as part of its plan to over­take rivals BMW, Volk­swa­gen and Audi.

Find out what Mer­cedes-Benz USA chief Steve Can­non has in mind for the U.S. mar­ket.

Lux­u­ry-car brand Mer­cedes-Benz, fac­ing stag­nant sales in Europe and trou­bles in Chi­na, is dou­bling down on expan­sion in the U.S. as part of its plan to over­take rivals BMW AG, Volk­swa­gen AG and Audi in glob­al lux­u­ry sales.

Mer­cedes-Benz plans to launch 30 new mod­els in the U.S. with­in sev­en years, and expand its man­u­fac­tur­ing oper­a­tions in the U.S. and Mex­i­co. The invest­ments put Steve Can­non, the head of Mer­cedes-Benz USA, on the hot seat to trans­late those invest­ments into big sales gains for par­ent Daim­ler AG.

So far this year, he has the Mer­cedes-Benz brand atop the U.S. lux­u­ry-car mar­ket, beat­ing BMW by about 5,000 vehi­cles through the end of Octo­ber. BMW took the U.S. sales crown in 2012 and 2011.

Mr. Can­non suc­cess­ful­ly prod­ded Daim­ler, which is based in Stuttgart, Ger­many, to give the region greater invest­ment, argu­ing that it has the poten­tial to expand sales faster than oth­er mature mar­kets.

That dri­ve has made the for­mer U.S. Army Ranger and flu­ent Ger­man speak­er the U.S. point man help­ing Daim­ler Chief Exec­u­tive Dieter Zetsche deliv­er on his promise to make Mer­cedes-Benz the world’s best-sell­ing lux­u­ry-car brand by 2020.

The biggest test of whether the auto mak­er can recap­ture the U.S. sales crown is just now rolling into deal­er show­rooms.

The Mer­cedes CLA com­pact, start­ing at just under $30,000, is the first of what could be a line of vehi­cles aimed at under 44-year-olds, an age group that Mer­cedes-Benz has strug­gled to con­vert into cus­tomers.

Mr. Can­non, 52 years old, argues that Mercedes-Benz’s poten­tial among younger buy­ers makes the U.S. a growth mar­ket. “We have a demo­graph­ic growth curve that looks more like a BRIC [emerg­ing mar­ket] coun­try than it does a mature mar­ket in the West,” he says.







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