Mercedes-Benz's chief operating officer, Markus Schäfer, told the U.K. publication Autocar that even though some markets still love their wagons—sorry, estates—"this market is under pressure."
For the U.S., Mercedes said the few station wagon models it sells remain important thanks to loyal customers.
Other model segments that Mercedes could shrink or discontinue include coupes and cabriolets, in part because making a beautiful electric cabriolet is an engineering challenge, he said.
Station wagons have been all but eliminated in the U.S. thanks to the popularity of crossovers and SUVs, but they are certainly not dead in the hearts of many. Which is why it's notable that Mercedes-Benz's chief operating officer, Markus Schäfer, has hinted that the automaker is questioning what role these wagons—called estate models in Europe—will play in the company's future.
"[With] estate cars, we have to see," Schäfer told Autocar. "This market is under pressure as more and more customers move to SUVs, and there are just a few markets left for estates and station wagons. So we have to see how the volumes are developing. They're technically absolutely possible—that wouldn't be a problem—but it's more a question of how this niche is developing. I know the U.K. is a great market for station wagons."
Autocar, which is based in the U.K., said it has heard from other Mercedes-Benz representatives that the fact that today's SUVs are getting more efficient, especially when it comes to designing aerodynamic electric SUVs, means that demand for estate cars is shrinking.
In the U.S., Mercedes sells the E-Class wagon, calling the E450 All-Terrain wagon (top) "quite possibly the most brainy wagon on Earth" and the 2021 AMG E63 S wagon (above) "unexpectedly exotic." Those positive remarks are in line with the official company line regarding the future of Benz wagons in the U.S.
"Station wagons [estates], although occupying a specific niche, remain an important offering to one of our most loyal customer segments," a spokesperson for Mercedes-Benz USA told Car and Driver.
But there's another concern: Mercedes-Benz's work on developing more vehicles with electric powertrains could reduce the number of coupes and cabriolets the brand sells, Schäfer told Autocar.
"We have to recognize that the demand for cabriolets is dropping around the world. China is not a roadster-covering market, and there are [fewer] buyers in Europe who decide on a cabriolet, compared to some years ago," he said. "It's not that easy to build a good-looking cabriolet [as an EV]. It's an engineering effort. It's quite a job and a task to keep it in nice proportions and not to lift it too high, with a big battery underneath it. There are some cars out in the market that would not meet our tastes. So we will come up with something better."
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