As we march forward into a future with more electrification, it’s becoming clearer that a number of body styles could end up being left in the past. For Mercedes-Benz, it thinks the future is even further upmarket than it currently is, and that apparently means that some models must fall under the guillotine. Among those not making it will be most of its coupes and wagons.
This was first reported by the folks at Car and Driver, and despite how sad it is, the news shouldn’t be surprising. The wagon has struggled for relevance in a market where the crossover is king. Back in 2021, even wagon stalwart Volvo admitted that SUVs are its bread and butter, and while it wasn’t going to completely discontinue wagons, it needed to cut back. Later that year, Volvo reduced its wagon lineup in America by killing off the standard V90 and V60 models.
Mercedes’ New Strategy
For Mercedes-Benz, the wagon apocalypse started in 2020, when Mercedes-Benz Chief Operating Officer Markus Schäfer reportedly said that wagons had dwindling appeal and that a focus on EVs meant no real need for the long roofs that enthusiasts love. In 2022, German auto media reported that Mercedes planned to kill off wagons by the end of the decade. This was apparently part of a long-term strategic plan announced in May 2022, which involves Mercedes-Benz downsizing and moving further upmarket. Now we know a little more about this plan and it’s quite dramatic.
According to Car and Driver, Mercedes is betting on a future where luxury is a bit different than it is now. In this future, Mercedes-Benz products will be prepared to ease pressure on the driver, extended personalized mobility services, and the brand will hone in on creature comfort as one of its key brand values. All of those buzzwords apparently add up to a less diverse set of body styles. I suppose you don’t need a wagon to have great creature comforts. Of course, Mercedes’ new brand strategy is also about boosting profits. Car and Driver figures that based on what it has seen, Mercedes is offering 33 body styles for customers in Europe and the States, but just 14 of them will come out of the other end of this plan.
And if you still had any doubts, the publication got direct quotes:
“At the end of the day, we simply don’t need estate cars [wagons] or underperforming two-door offerings to boost volumes,” a senior member of Mercedes-Benz’s strategy team told Car and Driver. “The most essential elements of sustainable contemporary luxury cars are space and time . . . That’s our number one priority—not another fancy body style, a model that only works in Europe, or one last stab at a dying segment.”
Currently, buyers in the United States can buy an E-class wagon from Mercedes-Benz. Thankfully, that’s set to get another generation. However, it too will fall in 2030. Car and Driver notes that the E-class will be the marque’s last wagon. Over in Europe, the C-class wagon will make it to 2028 and the E-class will get another generation before dying in 2030. The CLA-class will also get another generation in 2025, where it will ride on the electric MMA platform. Mercedes calls the CLA-class a shooting brake, and it will be the last of its kind, too.
Wagons Were A Staple Of Mercedes-Benz
When 2030 rolls around, the wagon will have been a part of Mercedes history for 77 years, so it’ll be sad to see it go. The automaker traces its wagon roots back to 1953, from Mercedes-Benz:
There have been estate models bearing the Mercedes star for more than 50 years now. Yet the early vehicles were not produced in Sindelfingen, rather they were the work of specialist body manufacturers: the 170 V was supplied by Lueg (Bochum) from 1953 as a station wagon, while at the end of the 1950’s Binz (Lorch) produced an estate version of the classic Mercedes 300 (Adenauer). These were followed by versions of the “Ponton”, “Fintail” and the “Stroke/8” (produced by Binz and Miesen respectively).
However, the Stuttgart engineers and designers are not totally unfamiliar with the practical body variants featuring large load spaces. Initially, Mercedes-Benz itself sold the small fintail model of the Belgian manufacturer IMA as an estate, under the name “Universal”. And the estate version of the Stroke/8, which was developed up to series production stage, already demonstrated what an attractive station wagon should look like. Admittedly the estate was not being produced at that point.
Nevertheless, market research conducted by Mercedes in the 1970s highlighted the fact that there was significant demand for a sporty, luxurious five-door vehicle for recreational and family use, and in 1975 the executive board therefore gave the project the green light. However, the new Mercedes was not to be called a “Kombi”. The names “Universal” and “Station Wagon” were not approved either. Finally the decision was made – the new variant was to be designated with the abbreviation “T”, which stood for “Tourism” and “Transport”. Only the internal series designation still hinted at the term “Station Wagon”: to this day the Estate still bears the letter “S” as a prefix to the series number.
Series production of the S 123 Estate model commenced in April 1978 at the Bremen factory. The rear end, with its extended roof, and the low load compartment sill, turned the new model variant into a true sensation of space: even when the standard seats for the driver and up to four passengers are fitted, the station wagon still had room for a load of 523 litres up to the edge of the windows. With the rear seat bench folded down, the load space even swallowed loads of 879 litres up to the edge of the windows.
Those models sparked a long line of attractive and practical wagons that last to this day. From the legendary W123 to the current E-class, enthusiasts love Mercedes wagons, but it looks like not enough of them are sold to justify their continued existence.
More Dying Models
As for what else is dying? Well, the bloodbath continues. The C-class and E-class coupes and convertibles will be discontinued somewhere between this year and next year. Those cars will be consolidated into a single convertible model. The CLS-class will be offed next year, and the four-door versions of the AMG GT are expected to die next year or in 2025. Even those SUVs that are shaped like coupes aren’t going to make it. GLE and GLC Coupes will get another generation before going extinct.
Thankfully, it’s not all bad news. There’s a new GT coupe coming this year and in 2026 there will be a new four door coupe as well as a new SL roadster. The report indicates that these new models will be electric, along with a new AMG GT. Speaking of AMG, apparently, that division and Maybach will be getting a bigger focus, too. That makes sense given the strategy is to move further upmarket. So, fun isn’t entirely dead at Mercedes, but one thing’s for sure, the automakers we know and love are changing, and some enthusiasts will be left behind.
I reached out to Mercedes-Benz for more information.
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