Mercedes-Benz A-Class CKD – sedan chosen due to higher demand than hatch, more practical than CLA – paultan.org

Mercedes-Benz Malaysia (MBM) recently launched the locally-assembled (CKD) version of the A-Class Sedan, which is notably more affordable than the previous, fully-imported (CBU) model that first arrived here in April 2019.

When it was a CBU model, the A-Class Sedan was sold alongside the A-Class Hatchback, but as we found out during a group interview with MBM’s head of sales and marketing Michael Jopp, the latter has since been discontinued here and can now only be ordered on an indent basis.

In the same interview, we asked Jopp why MBM chose the A-Class Sedan to be localised, but the hatchback was left out. “I think it was relatively easy when we had to make the decision. Just looking at what we see is the typical customer demand in Malaysia, there is still a strong preference for sedans,” he said.

“When it became clear that the compact car portfolio would open up, I think it was a relatively easy choice to say this should actually be the first one that we localise because we see the biggest potential from a long-term perspective, from a customer perspective and also looking at the package that we have. It’s a very attractive car, very good interior space and so, it was a relatively easy choice,” he added.

Jopp also noted that even when both A-Class body styles were CBU, the demand for the sedan was higher than the hatchback after its introduction. With the order books in the A-Class Sedan’s favour, it’s pretty clear why MBM went in the direction it took.

The A-Class Sedan competes against the BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe, but Mercedes-Benz also has another, more style-focused model that rivals Munich’s offering, the CLA. As such, we asked Jopp if there was any consideration to add the CLA to MBM’s CKD compact car line-up – the model is only offered here as full-fat AMG model, fully imported.

“No, because from our perspective, if you look at packaging, I think the A-Class Sedan is the more practical package. It looks, I would say, extremely sporty considering the challenges to design a good-looking small sedan. In other markets, we used to have a localised CLA; it was everywhere in the world, but it was replaced by the A-Class Sedan,” Jopp replied.

In the past, the CLA was localised in other countries but that has stopped. All [CKD] markets have moved to the A-Class Sedan and that’s just because it’s our common understanding it’s a superior package,” he explained further. Today, the second-generation CLA is only built at Mercedes-Benz Manufacturing Hungary, but the original was also built by Mercedes-Benz India and the Thonburi Automotive Assembly Plant (TAAP) in Thailand.

The CKD A-Class Sedan is offered in two variants, the base A 200 Progressive Line goes for RM210,903, making it RM11,000 less than before, while the A 250 AMG Line has gone down by RM19,000 at RM239,858. These figures are on-the-road without insurance, factoring in full sales and service tax (SST) exemption that has been extended to June 30, 2021.

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