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Mercedes to reduce engine, platform complexity: report

New age: The arrival of electric models like the EQS (left) will lead to a reduction in Mercedes’ internal combustion-engined range.

Mercedes-Benz to cut costs by streamlining engines and platforms, axing manual

8 Oct 2020

SOON after announcing a comprehensive expansion of its EQ all-electric vehicle family, Mercedes-Benz has also declared it will be making a number of changes to its internal-combustion models, according to a report from British publication Autocar.


The German brand is tipping considerable funding into EV and technology spheres, so Mercedes has decided it will “dramatically” reduce its range of internal-combustion engines in order to save costs and achieve “profitable growth”.


Among the reduction in powertrains is the deletion of the manual gearbox on all vehicles. Mercedes-Benz does not currently offer any manual transmissions on its Australian passenger cars, with the SLC180 roadster the last vehicle to be offered Down Under with a three-pedal option.


Speaking to Autocar, Mercedes-Benz head of research and development Markus Schaefer said the brand would have to seriously trim back the range of platforms and engines the brand currently produces.


“We need to reduce complexity,” he said. “Complexity adds costs. We’re going to reduce future products, reduce platforms substantially, combustion engines will be very dramatically reduced and we will eliminate the manual transmission.”


“We’re going to a more modular strategy, and we will reduce the number of options significantly.”


The ‘modular strategy’ Mr Schaefer refers to will likely mean a more homogenous platform plan which will involve a small range of modular underpinnings capable of fitting a range of differently sized vehicles, similar to what has been done with brands like Volkswagen Group, and its MQB/MLB/MEB platforms.


The move to reduce future products could spell the end of some of Mercedes’ more niche models, such as the aforementioned SLC roadster, the CLS large sedan or B-Class tallboy hatch.


Mercedes will aim to reduce fixed costs by more than 20 per cent by 2025 compared to 2019, while also aiming to cut capital expenditure and R&D costs by 20 per cent over the same time frame.


As for engines, Mercedes is yet to outline what the internal-combustion model cull will look like, however again modularity will likely be the name of the game, meaning mills like the 1.3 and 1.5-litre petrol and 2.1-litre turbo-diesel would probably be the most likely to get the chop.


The recent announcement will see seven new dedicated EVs enter production for Mercedes by the end of next year, starting with the S-Class complementing EQS, followed by a range of vehicles including compact cars, SUVs and a people mover.


To the end of September, Mercedes-Benz Cars has sold 21,379 units, down 9.6 per cent year-to-date on the 23,644 units it sold to the same point last year.

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