Production

Report: Mercedes-Benz looking to cut at least seven models from lineup

The Mercedes-AMG CLS is one of the models that is likely on the chopping block

Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz CL

New reporting indicates that Mercedes-Benz is looking to slim its lineup. The move hardly comes as a surprise given that the Mercedes stable is increasingly packed these days. Automotive News was the first to report the move.

A quick glance at the company's U.S. website reveals listings for eight SUVs, six sedans and wagons, seven coupes, six convertibles, one hybrid/electric model, and nine models In various stages of preparing to enter production. Then, there's traditionally two or more powertrain options for every model.

2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class The Mercedes-Benz E-Class may lose its coupe and convertible option in the U.S. Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

According to sources within the dealership community, Mercedes-Benz USA CEO Nicholas Speeks spoke of the changes during a webinar a month ago though he did not identify which models are on the chopping block nor a timeline for their removal from the lineup.

Insiders told Automotive News that coupe and convertible versions of the S-, C-, and E-Class nameplates are up for extinction, as well as the CLS coupe and one of the GTs.

On the surface, this moves make sense for four different reasons. Americans are buying less sedans than they were even half a decade ago. Practical sedans, let alone more impractical coupes and convertibles aren't on many shoppers lists these days as buyers turn toward SUVs and trucks.

The worldwide impact of the COVID-19 pandemic means that all car sales will be down even further than already predicted when 2020 kicked off. Less sales means less expenditures, but is also means less money is coming in.

Innovation is expensive. The cost of developing autonomous technology, even when entering into partnerships to do so, is a cost measured in the tens of billions of dollars range. The company's profits were already down by two-thirds in 2019. Daimler AG recently pulled out of its automated driving alliance with BMW.

As the push toward electrification intensifies, costs are not yet coming down. Many automakers lose money on each electric vehicle they sell. Minimizing the expenditures related to multiple car variants, and their development, helps keep costs down, which allows those funds to be reallocated to investing in cutting-edge product.

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Nuts & Bolts

 
 

Snake Pass is one of England's most beloved driving roads.

Britain's Snake Pass takes you though some of England's most scenic topography, curving in and out of the Derbyshire region of the Peak District. The weather there isn't always favorable - it's frequently closed due to snow or flooding - but when it's open, and you have the right car, it's a driver's dream.

The road has a rich history. It was opened as a toll road in the early 1800s and remained as such until the 1870s. It was the primary route between Sheffield and Manchester until the 1980s.

Porsche recently traced the route using its free-to-download Roads by Porsche app, which gives drivers the means of finding the best roads to travel. The route was recently voted onto the app by fans of the roadway.

Snake Pass Porche Cayman 718 Porsche recently test drove the road, which was added to its Roads app by fans.Photo courtesy of Porsche AG

The preferred route starts east of Glossop, a town just outside of Manchester. All 11 miles of the path are in a national park. Fro Glossop, the roadway climbs into the Pennine Hills reaching 1,680 feet above sea level at the point the route passes Pennine Way. A public house, the Snake Pass Inn, sits nearby. The road passes just north of Kinder Scout, the highest point in England, and through the towns of Knowsley, St. Helens, and Warrington.

The winding scenic roads naturally draws comparisons to Hells Canyon Scenic Byway, which runs along the Oregon and Idaho boarder. The U.S. route offers some of the most breathtaking views roadway views you can get in the country, and provides plenty of technical driving opportunities.

Traversing Snake Pass is technically tough. There are plenty of hazardous bends and blind summits. Fog rolls in quickly at times. Cyclists, professional and far from it, compete for roadway.

Porsche Cayman 718 at Snake Pass

Photo courtesy of Porsche AG

On the flip side, the road offers perhaps the best views of the Manchester area you'll ever see. The scenery goes from moorland to forest to flatland as well.

But, you won't be able to look long because of the road's perils.

Once through the forest, the road opens up again as you near Sheffield. Drystone walls feature while sheep politely munch their lunch nearby. The route draws to a close at Ladybower Reservoir at Ashopton but there's the option to continue. The A57 carries drivers on to Sheffield, dispersing them to the cities near and far via any number of more major motorways.

Or, you could turn around and traverse it once again. It's only 11 miles, after all.

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The Bentley Pikes Peak Continental GT by Mulliner celebrates the automaker's win at the 2019 race.

Photo courtesy of Bentley Motors

Designed to celebrate the luxury automaker's run up the world-renowned Pikes Peak course in Colorado, the limited edition Bentley Pikes Peak Continental GT by Mulliner takes the appointments and features of the coupé to new heights. Each model is hand-built at Bentley's factory in Crewe, England.

The car is part of Bentley's nine Collections portfolio and restricted to a run of 15 vehicles, all of which have already been sold. Buyers are spread throughout the world and come from Japan, the United Arab Emirates, Germany, New Zealand, Latvia and the United Kingdom. Five of the new owners come from the United States (Manhattan, Fort Lauderdale, Try (Michigan), Rancho Mirage (California), and Omaha.

Bentley Pikes Peak Continental GT by Mulliner

Photo courtesy of Bentley Motors

In 2019, a race-prepared version of the Continental GT beat the best time for a production car to climb the 5,000-feet of Pikes Peak by more than eight seconds. It took on the 156 bends in just 10 minutes, 18.4 seconds. It was piloted by three-time Pikes Peak champion, former 'King of the Mountain', Rhys Millen.

The Pikes Peak Continental GT Limited Edition is distinguished by exclusive Radium by Mulliner paintwork. One-third of the special edition's buyers have chosen to outfit their vehicle in the Mountain Decal Event Livery while three have chosen a more subtle gloss black exterior paint finish.

Each model wears a carbon fiber body kit and has Acid Green brake calipers and Pirelli P Zero Color Edition tires. The front, lower bumper inserts are enhanced with gloss black detailing, mirrored on the roof panel, wing mirrors and rear surfaces. There is a Pikes Peak decal on the front fender.

It wears standard 22-innch wheels painted in gloss black. The available '100' grille celebrates the fact that the record-breaking Pikes Peak run took place in Bentley's centenary year.

Inside the car is Alcantara trim with contrasting Radium thread stitching. A honeycomb Radium stitching design to the steering wheel is complemented by a radium strip across the middle, matching the Pikes Peak race car.

The fascia design on the passenger side sports a graphic design showing a section of the famous Pikes Peak track, with five different graphics being used across the 15-car run, along with the record-breaking time of 10:18.488.

Pikes Peak Radium embroidery continues on the headrest stitching, contrast binding on the overmats, with Pikes Peak treadplates and exclusive B&O speaker covers in Black Anodised and Radium finish.

Each Pikes Peak Continental GT by Mulliner model is equipped with a 12-cylinder petrol engine that produces 626 brake horsepower and 442 pound-feet of torque. It has a zero to 60 mph time of 3.6 seconds and a top speed of 207 mph.

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