US: Mercedes GLA crossover faces stiff competition image

Almost a year ago, Mercedes-Benz introduced the CLA compact sedan on the US market and racked more than 30,000 units sold – thanks to its price tag and initial lack of competitors.

While Mercedes says the figures would have gone even higher if it hadn’t been for the production constraints. The executives now prepare for the introduction of the GLA Class, a model that slots into an even hotter segment.

“The segment is potentially three times as large,” suggested communications chief Rob Moran.

“The segment is only going to get bigger because there will be so many more choices,” adds Dave Sullivan, a senior analyst with consulting firm AutoPacific.

Mass-market crossovers and SUVs are now outselling the traditional sedan segment in the US and analysts and observers say the same could happen to the compact premium segment.

The only thing is that here the GLA faces much stiffer competition than the CLA did. There are older offerings, such as the BMW X1 and just as hot and new introductions, such as Lincoln’s MKC. Lexus, now the third largest luxury automaker on the US market is also joining the party with its NX. Cadillac could bring a model before the decade’s end and Infiniti has two offerings – the QX30 and the more conventional Q30.