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Friday, January 24, 2014

Mercedes-Benz and the New CLA Welcoming Future Generations


The bold, forward-looking style of the 2014 CLA is poised to welcome younger audiences. I have been a Mercedes fan since the 70’s and  believe the 280SE coupe and 280SL pagoda are some of the best looking cars every made.  Fast forward to 2014 standing on the showroom floor of a dealership with the MBCA (Mercedes-Benz Club America) club event to test drive the new S-Class and CLA I was talking with the club president and board of directors about their issue getting younger members in to the club. Then I looked around the room and realized the issue is not only within the MBCA club but is a large issue with the entire Mercedes-Benz Company.  Historically Mercedes engineers made the best car on the road and then the marketing department priced it accordingly. Then the market share started to go down with other car companies building quality products. Mercedes had to advertise on TV to compete in the new market place. 


A car that use to sell itself now needed to keep up with the others. Loyal buyers were not swayed but the buying power of younger generations cannot be ignored and conservative styling approaches are hurting the bottom line. Today you see a company with one foot in the old traditional styling and another foot in the future. The CLA250 and the CLA45 AMG are directly targeting the younger market and as Mercedes is usually good at what they do I feel they have hit the target. The memo has got around the company and they are listening to what younger customers want. The key to all of this is the Star brand, it has brought class and prominence to every Mercedes way before the 60’s 600 limousines and anyone that drives one not only gets a bank vault for an automobile but the prestige and pride of ownership as well. Put that star on a car for future generations and now a whole new era is starting that may keep loyal fans for their lifetime. 


In a world where version updates are a regular part of the landscape and being adaptable to fast pace technology changes today's cars do more than transport you from one place to another, they also talk to your arsenal of technology and plug into your life. Just as a buyer in the 60’s wanted   a Mercedes for its build quality today it may be the carbon fiber iphone holder that brings it home today, learning and adapting is the key. The CLA tag line “Style you’d sell your soul for. At a price that lets you keep it” and an A-list actor William Defoe was a good campaign and at a $29,900 entry level price point it is attracting new first time Benz owners. Mercedes has pulled ahead of the competition with the new CLA. My thought for the MBCA is to invite every CLA owner to club events or even have an event targeted for the CLA specifically to attract the next generation of Mercedes enthusiast. My hope is that the younger generations take pride in ownership and pass that on to their children. It starts with washing hubcaps in the driveway and working your way up to washing the whole car and eventually getting behind the wheel to drive it and feel the quality through the steering wheel. Maybe the future Mercedes enthusiast will be restoring their CLA forty years from now rather than just getting the upgrade or new version.

(Special thanks to Mercedes-Benz of Beaverton for CLA access.)



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