Mercedes-Benz may be preparing to kill its two longest-running compact cars – but breathe life into a niche wagon – a new report out of Europe claims.
The strong-selling Mercedes-Benz A-Class and B-Class hatchbacks may not be renewed for another generation once the current cars leave showrooms in 2025, according to a new overseas report.
Citing four insider sources, German newspaper Handelsblatt (via Autocar) claims Mercedes-Benz has elected not to develop new generations of the A-Class hatchback and sedan, and the B-Class MPV (multi-purpose vehicle).
The reported end of A-Class and B-Class production in 2025 will leave the company with four compact cars: the sleek CLA sedan, its CLA Shooting Brake wagon sibling, GLA small SUV and boxy GLB small-to-mid-size SUV.
Mercedes-Benz’s plan to axe three of its seven small cars was confirmed by the company a month ago – but the decision to kill the A-Class hatchback, which remain popular in Europe, has caught industry experts by surprise.
Figures quoted by Handelsblatt show Mercedes-Benz sold approximately 184,000 A-Class hatchbacks and sedans in Europe, the US and China in 2021 – compared to only 73,000 CLA sedans and wagons, and 33,000 B-Classes.
Even combining the GLA and GLB SUVs, the A-Class is ‘only’ about 40,000 sales behind, or at 83 per cent of the crossovers’ sales – despite consumer preferences skewed towards SUVs, and the better-selling A-Class hatchback sold mainly in Europe.
In contrast to the A-Class’ popularity, the CLA Shooting Brake was tipped by analysts to be one of the three compact models axed by Mercedes-Benz, given declining sales of wagons globally, and reports the company would no longer invest in developing new wagons.
The CLA Shooting Brake was axed in Australia after the end of the first-generation model’s run in 2018 – and accounted for about 25 per cent of local CLA sales over the four full years it was in production.
With the CLA Shooting Brake out of showrooms, Mercedes-Benz has sold nearly twice as many A-Class hatchbacks as CLA sedans in Australia so far in 2022 – and is the company’s second-best selling passenger car locally, just behind the C-Class sedan.
The A-Class range and B-Class will go out of production in 2025, according to Handelsblatt – while the CLA sedan, CLA Shooting Brake, GLA and GLB SUVs will receive new generations from 2024, on Mercedes’ new MMA platform.
As reported last week, the new compact cars – classed as ‘Entry Luxury’ – will centre around all-electric power, though the MMA (Mercedes-Benz Modular Architecture) chassis they sit on can support petrol and hybrid powertrains.
The new MMA-based small cars will embrace their luxury billing with a focus on classier styling and a new MB.OS operating system, which will power all vehicle systems from infotainment to autonomous driving.
As Mercedes-Benz reportedly prepares to withdraw from the small hatchback market, Audi has committed to a new generation of the A3 – though BMW is rumoured to be reconsidering its position in the segment.
Alex Misoyannis has been writing about cars since 2017, when he started his own website, Redline. He contributed for Drive in 2018, before joining CarAdvice in 2019, becoming a regular contributing journalist within the news team in 2020. Cars have played a central role throughout Alex’s life, from flicking through car magazines as a young age, to growing up around performance vehicles in a car-loving family.