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.