ORLANDO, FL – Mercedes-Benz dealers will leave the National Automobile Dealers Assn. convention with added momentum and confidence and relatively small cause for concern.
Retailers are ready for the CLA-Class compact, an entry-level, front-drive sedan due in the U.S. in September and targeting younger, affluent buyers.
“Especially with the launch with the Super Bowl (advertising), we’re already starting to see a lot of good opportunity out there around it,” Jay Agresta, owner of Benzel-Busch Mercedes-Benz in Englewood, NJ, tells WardsAuto after the auto maker’s make meeting here.
“There’s a lot of good, positive stuff going on with the brand. We’re in a good spot right now.” Agresta doesn’t expect Mercedes to duel with BMW, Lexus and other premium marques for luxury-vehicle sales leadership in the U.S., a title held by BMW in 2012.
“As a brand, I really don’t think Mercedes is overly focused on achieving that crown,” he says. “I think that if they’re going to do it, it’s going to be done with pure sales, with real retail sales and not with programs and demo programs and that sort of thing.
“I think that this group of dealers (is) happy they’re not engaging with that kind of fake battle. It’s better for us.”
At the make meeting held here, Mercedes retailers discussed ways to improve communication with their dealer board to make sure each outlet has a say in manufacturer relations.
“There were some parts of the country where (dealer-board members) would hold conference calls before each meeting, and other parts of the country where it was inconsistent,” Agresta says. “We mandated a more consistent approach where every dealer-board member is hosting a conference call prior to our next dealer-board meeting so that we can build a proper agenda.
“We talked a lot about the dealer board and our desire to communicate better with the dealer body and to build a better structure of a communication plan, and to build more transparency in the process of how we’re communicating with the dealers and Mercedes-Benz,” he adds. “It’s not so much a gap, it’s just that it can be more efficient.”