Mercedes-Benz boss Dieter Zetsche has gone public on an ambitious programme that will launch 10 new and 22 heavily upgraded and/or facelifted models into the five market segments the German manufacturer operates in before the end of 2015.
The expansion strategy is aimed at matching the projected growth rates of homeland rivals Audi and BMW through to the middle of the decade.
Mercedes will retain its traditional core models, such as the C, E and S-classes, and all their current variants, but will significantly extend its reach at the lower end of its line-up. It will also build on its luxury car portfolio to replace the Maybach models that are due to be phased out within the next two years.
Chief among the additional new models Mercedes is exploring is a new Porsche 911 rival, called the SLC. The new sports car is scheduled for launch in 2014 and has a projected price of £75,000. The evocatively styled two-door has been conceived as a joint exercise between Mercedesí regular passenger car department and its performance car division, AMG.
Zetsche indicated that the front-engined sports car will be an addition to the companyís mid-size line-up. This will also include the new fourth-generation C-class due out in 2014 and future incarnations of the C-class estate and C-class coupÈ. A new open-top C-class cabriolet is set to appear in 2015, along with a facelifted version of todayís SLK in 2014.
At the more affordable end of the Mercedes range, the recently introduced B-class MPV and soon-to-be-revealed five-door A-class hatchback will be joined by at least three new models the manufacturer is banking on to attract a younger generation of buyers. They include a four-door saloon replacement for the CLC and a five-door CLC Shooting Brake due to be launched next year. A junior SUV, likely to be called the GLC, is scheduled for introduction in 2014. All of these vehicles will be based on the companyís highly flexible MFA (modular front architecture) platform.