For those who live in societies which have conquered mass poverty and instability, the sophistication and make of the cars from which those who can afford them is an issue. And so when Mercedes embarked on a re-ification of its mystique in its ‘new’ C-Class, it got media attention. But it goes beyond the taste affordable by the rich. It is also about where technology is taking the concept of the car to in terms of new features.
Writing in Daily Maverick, (www.dailymaverick.co.za/020818) under the title “Mercedes-Benz C-Class: How New is New?”, Deon Schoeman gives an idea of the stuff the new car is made of: “The advanced power unit features 48V electrics and an integrated starter/generator that adds an extra 10kW and 160Nm to the regular 135kW/280Nm under acceleration, boosting performance, response and, ultimately, efficiency. The starter/generator also recuperates energy under braking.
Although the author argues that the venue of the launch of the new product in the case of South Africa was the bigger news, he nevertheless offered considerable insight into its make-up: “There’s bad news for manual gearbox enthusiasts, though: the entire C-Class range now comes equipped with Mercedes’ 9G-Tronic nine-speed automatic gearbox only. That said, I can’t see too many C-Class buyers asking for a stick shift …”
He finally listed how the attention the cabin has received, the new multifunction steering wheels and the touchpads they came with, a format from the S-Class, according to him. Touching on what might be the key issue, Schoeman added this: “Safety, a core value of the Mercedes-Benz brand, is enhanced with a raft of standard and optional driver assistance systems, some of which border on semi-autonomous status. Active brake assistance and adaptive main beam headlights are standard, but on offer on the extras list are the likes of active lane change assistance, cruise control with active distance control, active parking and more”.
But this is not assembled in South Africa from where many cars come to Nigeria. The London plant is the source this time. The event in South Africa was strategic marketing by Mercedes. It might also be heading for a similar show in Nigeria. Or is the market for this non-existent in Nigeria when compared to South Africa where patronage is said to be low too? Or is Nigeria too unstable? Taxing luxury cars used to be an option for nationalist leaders in poorer countries. With neoliberal globalisation, it is not clear what governments do now on such issues.