Tobias Moers 6 Photos Zoom

Interview with AMG Chief Tobias Moers: "We are planning a giant leap"

The Mercedes AMG boss talks about the success of the AMG GT, other potential Porsche killers, and the next generation of the AMG E Class.

Mercedes AMG’s current performance is very impressive. What are your goals for the rest of this year? How many cars can AMG even build?

Moers: We’ve had a few good ideas as to how we can extend our production capacities, and are now in the position to serve the massive demand. The one exception? The AMG GT. The sales figures of the GT have exCee’ded all expectations. If you were to order one today, you’d probably take delivery next spring. With regards to sales: Our goal is to sell twice as many cars in our anniversary year, 2017, than in 2013. That’s around 64,000 cars. We are currently on track to achieve this.

Is it not possible to ramp up production of the GT? There’s surely enough room out at the Sindelfingen plant?

Moers: It’s not just a question of our own capacities. All of our suppliers must also be able to keep up with any new production schedule. We have already increased our order sizes and frequencies due to the success of the GT. In my humble opinion, a certain waiting time is perfectly acceptable for a product such as the AMG GT. Of course, that’s only if it’s a reasonable waiting time.

Does this workload mean that further variants on the GT are to arrive later than initially planned?

Moers: No. We have a product release schedule, which we shall stick to. As such, a new version of the GT can be expected in the middle of 2016. Further members of the GT family will then follow in 2017.

What are Mercedes-AMG’s bestsellers currently?

Moers: The compact models are currently massively successful - cars such as the A Class, the CLA, the CLA Shooting Brake and the GLA. Additionally, this year’s sales of the C63 are the highest ever, and we can say that even now in September, with three months and the new C63 Coupé still to come! Of course, the GT is another one of our top selling models. The S Class and G-Wagen are internationally very successful too.

And what about the clients themselves? Has the GT opened up new target demographics?

Moers: The mix is just right. The GT has allowed us to achieve the level of market dominance that we were aiming for. Many of our GT clients are Mercedes owners that previously had other brands’ sports cars in the garage. Of course, we’ve also managed to tempt a lot of Porsche 911 drivers to make the switch. The GT has a much wider appeal than the SLS, simply because it performs much better in everyday driving situations.

What do you think is missing from the current AMG portfolio? Something like a thoroughbred Panamera-killer?

Moers: We also need something to directly rival the Macan. The GLC will offer us the right platform to come up with something though. We’ve got a few ideas in that area. But a new enemy for the Panamera? Let’s see what our guys come up with.

If the next AMG version of the E Class was that little bit more differentiated from the standard model, could that not be positioned as a suitable Panamera slayer?

Moers: We’ve got a lot on our plate with the E Class. We’re already looking at the biggest jump between models that AMG has ever performed in this segment - the new E Class will be a very new beast.

What are the most important changes?

Moers: I don’t want to name any points in particular. It’s about the concept as a whole - the drive, the efficiency, everything. I’ll share one example with you: For the C Class Coupé, we developed a new rear axle, with which we can really take performance to the next level. It’s a platform axle, which we will use in the E Class in a slightly modified form.

How do you rate the current success of the AMG offering? Are you planning to increase capacities, or do you believe that demand will settle down somewhat?

Moers: With respect to our capacities, we’re part of Daimler AG, and as such we have access to one of the most well developed production systems on Earth. We get along very well with Chief of Production Markus Schäfer and his team, and as such we receive his full support. We are currently building the V8 engines in a two shift system - we’re at maximum capacity, in other words. It’s possible that we will have to move our V12 production elsewhere within Daimler, in order to create more capacity. We’re certainly beefing up the development side of AMG. For this we need the right people too.

Audi is resurrecting the R8 e-tron, Porsche has demonstrated a four-door electric sports car. How is the Mercedes SLS AMG Electric Drive doing?

Moers: The SLS AMG Electric Drive and its engine prove the ability and innovativeness of AMG, and is the pinnacle of what this technology is capable of. Currently we are looking at several different new paths to follow - one of which is the electrification of the drivetrain. Full electrification is also a major topic, even if our focus is firmly on hybrid solutions. We are already in the pre-development phase in this respect. It’s important to us, to be able to define the performance of the future.

Does an AMG plug-in hybrid, for example in the C Class, mean that the V8 engine will be abandoned and in will come a smaller combustion engine, and propulsion will be generated solely by the electric motor?

Moers: I can’t speculate on that. We’re certainly already thinking about hybrid solutions with the next generation of the four-cylinder, and also whether this engine can be fitted lengthwise and not just crossways. But now we’re talking about things in the next decade. The C Class doesn’t really need anything currently. The efficiency of its V8 engine is as good as many six cylinder engines.

Currently, the 2.0l four-cylinder engine and the 4.0l V8 cover a wide range of performance requirements. Does Mercedes AMG even need other engines?

Moers: The V12 continues to play an important role. Of course, its performance could also be achieved by an eight cylinder engine. But the V12 clients are very demanding; they love this engine and would refuse to buy any other. So we will be sticking with it. Of course, we do have to think about how to make this concept futureproof.

But otherwise? Will the next E Class, for example, receive a bigger motor than the C Class?

Moers: The E Class will receive our 4.0l V8 and accordingly enjoy higher performance. The S Class Cabrio was the last car to receive the 5.5l engine.

Will the E Class once again be available in both two and four-wheel drive variants?

Moers: It’s very possible, that the new E Class will only be available with all-wheel drive. As I mentioned before, we really are planning a giant leap. And that could include a new four-wheel-drive system, heavily oriented towards driving dynamics and performance. We are forging our own path here. Additionally, the next generation of the MCT gearbox will come with nine gears.

Your competitors are trying diesel engines. AMG on the other hand abandoned this pursuit ten years ago. Do you need to reconsider this stance?

Moers: We are monitoring this segment closely. For us, the key challenge lies in achieving the performance requirements of an AMG car with a diesel engine. Our new petrol engines are a long way from their performance limits. As such, we see more opportunities in the electrification of petrol engines. Additionally, the potential in this diesel segment is very limited.

The new GT3 is currently standing on the starting grid. How happy are you with how the testing went?

Moers: We are very satisfied with the test runs - we have recently performed a 30 hour endurance test, which came back with phenomenal results. We also want to test again this year, at the VLN on the Nürburgring We also have a massive list of customer requests for the GT3.

Photo

Stefan Baldauf

Date

24 October 2015
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