The Mercedes-Benz R-Class has never been a large-volume seller for the company, but despite a dismal 2008, the bulbous crossover isn't going anywhere -- yet.
"We have reached the level we can sell it," Ernst Lieb, CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA told Automotive News. "We plan to stay at this volume."
That volume, though, isn't much. After its debut in late 2005, the R-Class' sales peaked just short of 2,500 copies per month, or just under 30,000 per year. Since then, though, the R-Class has been in a tailspin. In 2008, sales tanked 40.7% to just 7,733 copies for the entire year. To prop up sales, the R-Class will receive its third facelift, this one planned for the 2010 model year, which will introduce all-new sheet metal forward of the A-pillar that Mercedes-Benz says will make it look more "aggressive."
Considering its free-falling sales, is Mercedes-Benz doing the right thing by keeping the R-Class alive, or is it time to take the model off life-support? Will an "aggressive" new look help the R-Class claw its way back up the sales charts, or does its destiny lie in low-volume production? Time will tell.