Mercedes to shift focus toward SUVs, design chief says

Mercedes-Benz’s design chief, Gorden Wagener, recently revealed that the company’s design team would prioritize SUVs over other models in the coming decade. As a result, the company will discontinue several models, including the C-Class Estate, E-Class Estate and GT 4-Door Coupe, to make way for the shift

The company is also planning to discontinue the C-Class Coupe and Convertible as well as the E-Class Coupe and Convertible, with plans to launch a new CLE Coupe and CLE Convertible in their place.

These changes would result in a significant reduction in the number of two-door models available. The move also follows the discontinuation of other models, such as the S-Class Coupe and S-Class Convertible, as well as the SLC.

“The focus this decade is 60 percent SUV, 30 percent limousine and 10 percent specialty vehicles, like sports cars or whatever,” Wagener said in an interview with Car Magazine, indicating that a low-slung saloon could also be on the horizon as the 54-year-old was referring to the F 015 concept shown in 2015 when he said “specialty vehicles.”

Improving tech in overall design

According to Wagener, the company has shifted its focus to prioritize tech in overall design, which he sees as the definition of luxury. He noted that cars are becoming more like rolling supercomputers and that design is just as important as technology.

“We’re moving in the right direction and keep evolving our ‘sensual purity’ design philosophy, which makes the brand beautiful and extraordinary,” Wagener said.

In that regard, Mercedes decided to develop its own operating system from scratch to power all its new vehicles, despite already breaking new ground with the MBUX infotainment system and its upcoming third generation.

Mercedes recently previewed its new operating system, MB.OS, at a tech event at the automaker’s Silicon Valley research center. MB.OS is set to replace the current MBUX user interface across all Mercedes vehicles.

MB.OS is designed to standardize hardware across all Mercedes models while allowing for customizable software to separate hardware from software so that updates to the latter can be performed seamlessly without requiring hardware updates.

New infotainment system features

While Mercedes promises that its new infotainment system will be a significant improvement in every way, there are a few notable highlights. One such feature is the ability to add a digital key to Apple Wallet, which can be detected automatically by the car to unlock it without needing the iPhone to be taken out of a bag or pocket. While smartphone-based access to vehicles is not new, this feature offers added convenience.

For existing MBUX users who disfavor the wake-prompt “Hey Mercedes,” the updated system offers considerable improvement. When the driver is alone, the voice assistant will respond without the prompt, though it remains necessary to distinguish a voice command from conversations between multiple passengers.

The updated system also incorporates “multi-intents,” allowing users to combine two commands into a single statement, such as closing the windows and making a phone call. Although currently limited to two commands, Mercedes says this feature can be scaled up to more complex commands in the future.

The new system in the E-Class and other Mercedes models will offer a dash-mounted selfie camera, which some may find absurd. However, Mercedes is targeting a new customer base with this feature, as it will enable video calls while driving and access to third-party apps like TikTok, thanks to the brand’s partnership with Google.

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