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

 
 

The Bentley Continental GT Mulliner Convertible is a new addition to the automaker's lineup.

Photo courtesy of Bentley Motors

The Bentley Continental GT Mulliner Convertible is the first member of the new Collections portfolio introduced by Bentley Mulliner, a division of Bentley that raises the bar on vehicle offerings with additional possibilities for customization.

Up front are cut-crystal inspired, precision-made headlamps, which sit on the sides of a new Double Diamond front grille. There are also bespoke Mulliner-branded side vents that feature a silver-on-black diamond theme, illuminated Mulliner tread plates, and LED welcome lamps that project the Bentley wings to the ground from the door mirrors.

Bentley Continental GT Mulliner Convertible The model features many of the same body characteristics of the traditional Continental.Photo courtesy of Bentley Motors

Under the hood is the buyer's choice of a twin-turbocharged 6.0-liter W12 or a twin-turbocharged 4.0-liter V8 engine. The larger engine gets the car from zero to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds and has a top speed of 207 mph. The V8 has a top speed of 198 mph and gets to 60 mph off the line in 4.0 seconds.

The open-top car has Grand Black wallet veneer standard. Buyers can stay standard or opt to customize the look by choosing from 87 other piano-finished wood veneers. Options include the ability to match the wood to the exterior of the car. To do this, burr walnut veneer is hand sanded and polished to produce a smooth finish before painting to match the color of the customer's choice. Once dry, the veneer is polished to achieve a mirror-like finish.

Chrome details overlay the piano veneer, even showing a convertible silhouette in the passenger fascia and a B-motif in the door waistrails.

Buyers can choose from eight custom-made three-color combinations for the interior. The hand-stitched hides are embellished with unique Mulliner-branded embroidery.

Bentley Continental GT Mulliner Convertible

Photo courtesy of Bentley Motors

The Double Diamond design continues into the cabin where a quilter version of the concept adorns four seats, door casinos, rear quarters, and a tonneau cover. To delver the quilting across the cabin, there are almost 400,000 stitches. Each diamond contains 712 individual stitches.

The center console has a Diamond Milled Technical finish. There's a Breitling for Mulliner clock that features a brushed metallic face and bejeweled hour marks. The clock bezel and air vent surrounds are finished in chrome.

Bentley is making the Continental GT Mulliner Convertible available with a Naim for Bentley audio system. The setup features 18 speakers and two Active Bass transducers driven by a 2,200‑watt, 20-channel amplifier and eight DSP sound modes with Active Bass.

The Continental GT Mulliner Convertible rides on new 22-inch 10-spoke painted and polished wheels that have floating, self-leveling wheel badges that remain upright as the wheel rotates.

Buyers get the keys to their car I a Mulliner-branded handcrafted presentation box, which matches the three-color interior configuration of the car. The two keys are provided in similarly color-matched leather cases with contrast stitching.

Pricing of the model depends on options chosen.

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Blacksford keeps their RVs near airports for easy in/out access

Photo courtesy of Blacksford

Want to overland but lack the necessary overlanding automobile? Have no fear, Blacksford is here!

Blacksford is a new recreational vehicle rental business that offers everything from a full-stocked Mercedes-Benz Sprinter to Winnebagos. The company charges customers per night with an all-inclusive pricing model that includes unlimited miles; no generator fees; bedding, bath, and kitchen supplies; Wi-Fi; an annual pass to national parks; and 24-hour roadside assistance.

Blacksford Mercedes-Benz Sprinter The models come stocks and the company is able to curate an adventure experience for you.Photo courtesy of Blacksford

The company was founded by tech entrepreneur Jonathan Distad, the founder of Zinovo, a company that offers support for Salesforce Managed Services. Blacksford also offers support, with the ability for travelers to get assistance curating road trip experiences. The RV rental company can connect them with vetted campsites, guides, and other hand-picked attractions.

Currently, the company offers vehicles from airports in Las Vegas, Nevada; Bozeman, Montana; and Denver, Colorado. The company has plans to expand to an additional dozen or more airports in the next two years. Blacksford is the only RV rental business based exclusively out of airports.

Rentals are available for daily or weekly rates. Additionally, multi-month mini leases are also available.

Prices start at just $199 per day. Renters are able to choose their own adventure or opt for a more curated itinerary. The company is able to provision your vehicle prior to your arrival.

Blacksford Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Renters have the ability to choose the vehicle that is right for them.Photo courtesy of Blacksford

"From the seamless online experience to our fully-stocked vehicles and all-inclusive prices, this is what the RV rental process should be like," said Distad. "We greet you at your airport gate, load your bags, onboard you virtually so you don't have to spend hours getting to know your RV, and offer 24-hour roadside assistance. Our RV rental process is easy, and there is no nickel-and-diming like so many of our competitors."

For more information visit Blacksford.com.

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