Are BMW and Mercedes risking their premium brand by selling vans and pickups? image

BMW, the world’s largest luxury automaker, is well known for delivering sporty-oriented rear-wheel drive sedans, while Mercedes-Benz has always been the epitome of comfort.

But BMW now offers front-wheel-drive models – the 2 Series Active Tourer and Grand Tourer – which are treated like minivans in Europe and could pass as full-blown models in the segment in the US if they had a sliding door, as the seven-seat mark has been passed. Meanwhile, Mercedes-Benz has decided to attack the Japanese medium pickup truck supremacy and deliver a premium pickup based on the architecture of the Nissan Frontier. Also, in the never ending quest to lift deliveries and maintain double-digit profit margins, the trio of German premium automakers have attacked all segments, dividing them into ever thinner slices they call niches. They do it by getting their brand and cars into places that were unimaginable just a few years ago.

Over the coming years, Audi announced it would jump its range to 60 models – seven more than today, including two new sport utility vehicles. Mercedes wants even more – ten models across new segments by the start of the next decade. “The trick is to use globally networked production plants employing standardized equipment and machines that build cars off scalable modular architectures,” comments Markus Schaefer, Mercedes production and supply chain head when asked about the economics. And as far as brand dilution goes, BMW has been famous about its studies regarding the compact car owners that had no idea of the type of traction their model had. Meanwhile, Mercedes has had a long lasting relationship with the commercial segment, selling anything from delivery vans to large truck rigs.

Via Automotive News Europe