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Mercedes-Benz Mulls Return of R Class for Some Markets


Autonews | Jay Ramey
June 19, 2015 - 10:07 am ET -- UPDATED: 6/19/15 12:31 pm ET - adds details, corrected

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story misstated the source of R class production for China.

Mercedes-Benz is thinking about bringing the R class back to international markets, according to a report.

The R class was available from 2006 until 2013, when it was withdrawn from almost every international market due to slow sales. But it remains in production for China, where it continues to be popular.

Mercedes is transferring output of the R class from its plant in Tuscaloosa, Ala., to AM General, which will build it under contract starting this summer at a factory near South Bend, Ind.

The resurgence of interest in luxury SUVs and crossovers following a brief lull is the reason Mercedes is giving the R class, which mixes the attributes and styling of multi-purpose vehicles, minivans and SUVs, another look.

Wolf-Dieter Kurz, Mercedes-Benz vice president of product group SUVs and sports cars, told caradvice.com the company is interested in expanding its SUV and crossover lineup further, following the debut of the GLE Coupe and redesigns of the GLE-class and GLC-class models.

"Basically I think I feel that the SUV segment -- due to its growth, and the worldwide interest that the SUVs have -- the SUV segment will be also in future the one which sees most derivatives, let’s say, in the outskirts of the portfolio," Kurz told caradvice.com. "Because it’s getting kind of fuzzy in its outskirts, let’s say."

In an interview with Automotive News this week, Kurz said there are no plans to reintroduce the current R class in the U.S.

He said American consumers were initially confused with the R class and later decided it was too similar to a station wagon, a segment that has struggled in recent decades in the U.S.

The R class has continued to be a solid seller in China, a market predisposed toward luxury MPVs -- Buick fields two large luxury vans there. But the R class was not a major sales success in the U.S. despite the variety of models offered, including an AMG variant, and was withdrawn in 2013 after a 2010 facelift failed to maintain sufficient consumer attention.

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Mercury C557
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It looks like there is a market for the Lincoln MKT(or new MKT) in China after all...
that wouldn't surprise me in the least, Bloggin
tho
at this point (T's failure in the U.S), I dunno if it'd be worth keeping or sending the T
even if it wouldn't impinge an Aviator (which of course it would = TANSTAAFL)


btw
don't remember if they came out at the same time
but I happened to compare the R and FreeStyle at the same autoshow back-to-back-to-back
and was AMAZEd by the differences

the Freestyle was comfy in every row and easy to get in and out of

the R came close to causing a claustrophobic PANIC ATTACK for me
 

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It looks like there is a market for the Lincoln MKT(or new MKT) in China after all...

I think the MKT is a great vehicle and overall I like the styling. If they'd restyle that hideous grille I think it would make all the difference. However with the new Aviator on the horizon I seriously doubt we'll see any form of improvements to the MKT.
 

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that wouldn't surprise me in the least, Bloggin
tho
at this point (T's failure in the U.S), I dunno if it'd be worth keeping or sending the T
even if it wouldn't impinge an Aviator (which of course it would = TANSTAAFL)


btw
don't remember if they came out at the same time
but I happened to compare the R and FreeStyle at the same autoshow back-to-back-to-back
and was AMAZEd by the differences

the Freestyle was comfy in every row and easy to get in and out of

the R came close to causing a claustrophobic PANIC ATTACK for me
I found something interesting. Ford wound down production of the Freestyle/Taurus X 2007/08, and Flex production ramped up in 2008/09. It seems Ford knows there is a need for a 7 passenger wagon. That's why I think the Flex and MKT will continue on, sharing the New Taurus and New Continental 116+ inch platforms.
 

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Mercury C557
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^ I dunno... lately, last couple days, actually since reading that ""How" Lincoln article that DEQ posted,
I'm not feeling confident about FoMoCo's decision-making process -- like, so much of it is cuz the company did something similar before

If the MKT looked more like the concept, sales would be much better today.
once upon a time
I swear I read that the Tconcept had a wheelbase that was ONLY ever seen otherwise on a Panther
&
figured body&frame would make "hanging" a showcar "shell" on it pretty easy
so
decided it was True

which
means imho, there was no chance at ALL of the production Cuv looking like it.

Agree, the Tconc was gorgeous (even if I'd've *bagged* the grille)
 

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I found something interesting. Ford wound down production of the Freestyle/Taurus X 2007/08, and Flex production ramped up in 2008/09. It seems Ford knows there is a need for a 7 passenger wagon. That's why I think the Flex and MKT will continue on, sharing the New Taurus and New Continental 116+ inch platforms.
That's because the Flex is a redesign of the Taurus X and the gap was because they moved production from Chicago to Oakville (they assumed much greater demand). But the Flex never came close to the 100,000/year sales goal and sold 1/3 of the Freestyle/Taurus X compared peak to peak. As Mercedes also discovered, Americans are very much turned off by anything resembling a station wagon. There will be no successor and Explorer has been expanded to take over even more customers for 2016. The Flex (and even the MKT) are nice vehicles, but they are significant underachievers and there is no reason to expect continuation.
 

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Original sales expectations were much lower than 100K, I think around 60K. It was Farley who made the 100K prediction ( along with other strange predictions). Although I don't recall if it was before the huge success of the current gen Explorer, which obviously yanked the rug right out from under the Flex, which is quite simply a better product. But Flex was originally brought to market due to an overwhelming response to the original concept, as a cool niche vehicle. Where Ford dropped the ball for both the Flex and MKT relative to the concept, was the proportions were changed in an effort to fill the void left over from the minivan departure. The details of the concepts, both, were nearly identical to the final production form, but stretched overall, giving them a much different look.

I think Flex sales were fine, given the much more popular clone known as Explorer. Only when compared to the unrealistic expectations of the few, did it seem to really fail. I loved my Flex. I tolerate my Explorer. nuff said.
 

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The Freestyle/Taurus X/Flex also exist for a number of curious reasons. Ford wanted a single platform to underpin a sedan and SUV and we ended up with products that ultimately missed the mark in both segments for many reasons (design, proportions, interior packaging, customer appeal). Ford also wanted a transitional 3-row crossover that still left room for the Explorer and minivan. Ultimately Ford failed to properly judge the trend early on and made some bad decisions (a common problem back in the day). The decision to use D3/D4 instead of CD3 was very controversial at the time and clearly was well founded considering the packaging struggles with the platform. GM ultimately set the trend with the success of the Lambda Crossovers and killed the BOF GMT SUV early on while Ford stumbled its way toward the D4 Explorer we finally got years later. From my prospective, Flex and MKT remain big Ford mistakes even if they are well made mistakes.

Flex is also a VERY rare example of a Ford concept begetting a Ford production vehicle, it's always the other way around in the modern era. It's a car that never made it through Ford's customer-focused research process and that's always a dangerous place to begin a product, as we ultimately saw with its failure. It's a lesson Detroit has learned over and over again.
 

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The Freestyle/Taurus X/Flex also exist for a number of curious reasons. Ford wanted a single platform to underpin a sedan and SUV and we ended up with products that ultimately missed the mark in both segments for many reasons (design, proportions, interior packaging, customer appeal). Ford also wanted a transitional 3-row crossover that still left room for the Explorer and minivan. Ultimately Ford failed to properly judge the trend early on and made some bad decisions (a common problem back in the day). The decision to use D3/D4 instead of CD3 was very controversial at the time and clearly was well founded considering the packaging struggles with the platform. GM ultimately set the trend with the success of the Lambda Crossovers and killed the BOF GMT SUV early on while Ford stumbled its way toward the D4 Explorer we finally got years later. From my prospective, Flex and MKT remain big Ford mistakes even if they are well made mistakes.
Don't you mean, Ford 'stumbled' it's way to the FAR MORE SUCCESSFUL Explorer.


And this is the reason for much of GM's 'trend setting success'



And although the Lambda triplets did not grace the Top 16 list above in 2013, they certainly did their fair share when that product was relevant.
 

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You do understand that the Lambdas collectively outsell Explorer right? Even if you throw in Flex and MKT.

And I don't see any Lambdas in that list you're posting.
 

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That's because the Flex is a redesign of the Taurus X and the gap was because they moved production from Chicago to Oakville...
I'll stick with the Much simpler story that the Explorer is the 3rd gen directly following the Stylefree & TauruX on the exact same assemblyline they were built on


...Flex is also a VERY rare example of an actual Ford concept getting toproduction, it's always the other way around in the modern era...
cough*MKR*cough

...It's a lesson Dearborn has never (possibly) Will never learn(ed) over and over again.
 

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Part of the issues I see with the Flex is that it was kind of seen as an alternative to the traditional minivan, a segment that is shrinking. Despite the fact the Flex looks cool as **** and is way faster (Ecoboost) than it has a right to be, I think it was just a matter of bad timing. The MKT is a little simpler to see why it has more or less failed, it has got to be one of the most polarizing vehicles on the road. The looks are like nothing else and straight up a love it or hate it situation.
 
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