Mercedes-Benz has announced a nomenclature change beginning in 2015, confirming what our own Angus MacKenzie heard at the Paris Motor Show in October. The move is intended to help streamline model lines and show a clear lineage across related vehicles. Mercedes also confirmed that the Maybach name will be revived for a special S600 model.
Mercedes says that by 2020 it will have introduced more than 30 new models worldwide, and that 11 of those will be all-new. With so many new products on the way, a new system has been devised. Model designations will always be an acronym consisting of one to three upper-case letters. Special powertrain types will be denoted by a lower-case letter. There will be five core model families, including A, B, C, E, and S. That designation will appear at the end of the letter sequence, telling you what the model relates to. The first letter in the sequence will denote lineage. For a better idea, here's the example Mercedes provides:
GLA = GL A-Class
GLC = GL C-Class; previously GLK
GLE = GL E-Class; previously M-Class or ML
GLE Coup—— = GL E-Class Coup——
GLS = GL S-Class; previously GL
G = unchanged
Going forward, CL will be used for four-door coupes, while SL will be used for all roadsters. In addition, designations for powertrain type will also change. A lower-case "c" will mark compressed natural gas vehicles, while "d" will be used on all diesels, replacing the BlueTEC and CDI terms. Plug-in hybrids will be labeled "e" from now on, while hydrogen fuel cell vehicles will carry an "f" badge. Finally, non-plug-in hybrids will get an "h" designation. Mercifully, traditional gasoline-powered models won't get a lower-case letter in their name. The 4Matic badge will continue to designate all-wheel-drive models.
Another big announcement, which we also heard about previously, involves the Maybach name. Mercedes killed the Maybach brand in 2012, but the name will live on with the Mercedes-Maybach S600. Mercedes is quick to point out that Maybach won't simply be an equipment line, but a sub-brand along the lines of AMG. And just as AMG models dropped the "Benz" name, so too will Maybach models. The automaker hasn't released much info on the top-of-the-line S-Class, but says the Mercedes-Maybach S600 will set a "new benchmark for exclusivity" with more space, special seats, and a more lavish interior. The Mercedes-Maybach S600 will make its debut next week at the L.A. auto show.