MONTVALE, NJ - Mercedes-Benz has some big plans for its US operations, according to Mercedes USA CEO Ernst Lieb. The executive revealed that several entry-level models will be appearing in the following years, in the B Class and C Class ranges, according to AssociatedContent.

The three big German luxury car manufacturers, Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, are thinking of newer and newer segments on which to expand their grasp and steal the lead from their rivals. In the US, at least according to Lieb, such a segment is the entry-level premium one, where BMW, with its 1 Series, and Audi, with its A3, are dominating sales. Mercedes-Benz, even though it has a rival lineup in the form of the B Class, is reluctant to bring the city car across the Atlantic because of the now infamous reluctance of US consumers toward hatchback models.

As such, Mercedes-Benz is thinking outside the box, and is already conducting focus tests on not one but three new models, all based on the next generation B Class. While the future lineup will include a hatchback in all other territories, for the US market, consumers will get a coupe, a crossover and sedan, all based on the future model. Such an investment would definitely pay off, according to many voices, as people are looking more toward compact cars but with a premium feel.

Besides offering an enlarged B Class lineup to rival BMW entries like the 1 Series or the X1 and Audi entries like the A3, Mercedes-Benz is also thinking of expanding its C Class lineup.

As of this moment, the C Class is present in the US only as a sedan. In 2011, according to Lieb, a coupe model will be revealed, in order to rival both the BMW 3 Series Coupe and the 1 Series Coupe, as well as the Audi A5. Afterwards, the C Class will get a mid-cycle refresh in 2012, with new visual elements, cleaner engines and more options. The range will be completed by the arrival of a Convertible model, based on the Coupe, which will attack, as you could have guessed, the convertible editions of both the BMW 3 Series and the Audi A5 lineup.

Originally posted on Automotive Fleet