The enclosed picture, courtesy of Swiss business bi-weekly Finanz & Wirtschaft and German car magazine Auto, Motor und Sport, is an interesting illustration not only of Mercedes-Benz evolution over the last 40 years, but also of the car industry as a whole (for the Swedish audience by the way, it also provides a good example of why Saab post-GM never stood a real chance of survival, being a mass-market producer).
In 1974, Mercedes was present in three segments; luxury cars with the S-class and the 600, mid-sized cars with the 8 sedan and coupé, and sports cars with the W107 SL and SLC. 40 years later and very much like the other brands that dominate today’s mass car industry, the three segments have become seven, with a far larger number of cars in each segment. And where there was previously not a segment/model, one has been invented (think shooting breaks and grand coupés, to name but a couple). 40 years ago, Mercedes built 6 different models, today it’s 25.
Obviously this is the result of quite an amazing production development in terms of common parts and platforms, but also of far-reaching but often little-known collaborations between brands on different levels. However, what has fundamentally not changed over these 40 years is the usage of petrol and diesel engines under the hood, although these have obviously been heavily developed and refined. When we look at the same picture in 40 years, when we’re gray and old, is that perhaps the big change we will see? What are your thoughts? Comments are as always welcome!