Thanks to a best-ever March 2014, Mercedes-Benz USA (MBUSA) hit a new first-quarter sales record in 2014 with 30,091 vehicles sold across the Mercedes-Benz, Sprinter, and smart model lines. Vehicles leading the way included the C-Class, E-Class, and M-Class model lines.
"MBUSA has the youngest and freshest vehicle lineup in the luxury automotive marketplace," said Mick Morris, department manager, fleet operations for MBUSA. "For MY-2015, Mercedes-Benz will have 16 model lines with 75 variants — not including Sprinter — and we are adding vehicles in key segments every year. With vehicles starting under $30,000, Mercedes-Benz has a vehicle for everyone."
And, according to Morris, the manufacturer's 2015 model-year lineup, which includes the GLA, CLA, GLK, and C-Class models, will excite fleets more than ever before.
Safety Continues to be a Key Feature
The compact SUV market is the fastest-growing segment in the automotive industry, and MBUSA is excited about its newest addition to the Mercedes-Benz model lineup, the GLA. The all-new, 2015 GLA comes in three variants: front-wheel drive, 4MATIC all-wheel drive, and the GLA45 AMG.
The GLA is the cousin of the successful CLA coupe, and both include such standard safety features as Collision Prevention Assist and Attention Assist driver drowsiness detector. Other key features include:
- A 7-speed dual clutch automatic transmission
- Electromechanical power steering
- Eighteen-inch wheels
- Power liftgate
- New-generation 4MATIC all-wheel drive (optional)
- Blind Spot Assist (optional)
- DISTRONIC PLUS (optional)
- Lane Keeping Assist (optional)
- Panorama sunroof (optional)
Another exciting fleet model, and a tremendous success for the brand, is the CLA, which originally launched in September 2013. The CLA, like the GLA, is available as a front-wheel drive, 4MATIC all-wheel drive, and a CLA45 AMG.
"The CLA has attracted a younger buyer than we have seen in the past and has over an 80-percent conquest rate for Mercedes-Benz," Morris said. "Our customers get a premium look, feel, and design starting under $30,000."
Up next is the GLK-Class, which comes in three variants: the 350 RWD, 350 4MATIC all-wheel drive, and the GLK250 BlueTEC diesel. The GLK250 BlueTEC was the first diesel in the small luxury vehicle segment and gets a class-leading 33 mpg. The GLK-Class also offers a class-leading nine air bags standard.
Rounding out its MY-2015 fleet lineup, and launching in September, is the all-new C-Class. Reimagined from every angle, the next generation of the bestselling Mercedes-Benz family emerges as more sophisticated, more powerful, and more luxurious than ever before.
The new C-Class is approximately 220-pounds lighter than the previous generation and 3.7-inches longer, resulting in improved fuel efficiency, acceleration, handling, and rear seat legroom. The C-Class is available as both a sedan and coupe and will include a standard touchpad for the infotainment system and an optional heads-up display, both found on the S-Class.
The C-Class will be produced in the United States, in Tuscaloosa, Ala., for the first time.
Other exciting product options for fleets are the alternative-fuel choices Mercedes-Benz currently offers, as well as those it will be offering in the coming years.
"We have the fully-electric smart car in the marketplace right now, and we are launching the fully-electric B-Class near the end of 2014 in all 50 states," Morris said. "Plus we have an assortment of plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) variants coming in the next few years to give our environmentally conscious fleet customers options when it comes to alternative fuels."
BlueTEC clean diesel variants are also available in all 50 states on E-Class, M-Class, GL-Class, and GLK-Class vehicles. The BlueTEC diesel engines produce fewer greenhouse gasses and return both great fuel economy and torque.
Lowering the Cost of Ownership
Thanks to an industry-best certified pre-owned program and limited involvement in the rental industry, Mercedes-Benz residual values are as strong as ever, according to Morris.
In addition, as with all of its vehicles, anyone who purchases a new Mercedes-Benz also receives a four-year/50,000-mile warranty, 24-hour roadside assistance, and optional pre-paid maintenance and extended warranty products.
Moving forward, MBUSA expects these types of benefits to continue paying off for fleets.
"We have certainly had considerable success in the U.S. market due to our products as well as our relationships," Morris stated. "The success and viability of our product portfolio has been established around the world for many years. The positive experiences around the globe have helped open the minds of fleet managers in the U.S."
Always at the forefront of the Mercedes-Benz brand, MY-2015 vehicles continue to feature key safety and technology systems, which include Collision Prevention Assist, Attention Assist driver drowsiness detector, Blind Spot Assist, and Lane Keeping Assist.
Also, in-vehicle technology such as the mbrace telematics system brings the Internet right to the driver. Weather, Yelp! restaurant reviews, Facebook, movie times, flight information, and financial news are all available via Mercedes-Benz apps in mbrace.
"All Mercedes-Benz apps have been designed to minimize driver distraction and simplify driving-related tasks," Morris pointed out.