The long-term future of performance cars – 15 to 20 years from now, or perhaps sooner – will see “some kind of electrification or hybridisation of the drivetrain” says Mercedes-AMG management board chairperson Tobias Moers.
However, the problem with this will be that such drivetrains will add weight to the vehicle, which will have to be countered in some way, he notes.
Autonomous driving, or self-driving, can certainly also become available in performance cars, says Moers, especially as these vehicles are also used in normal, mundane traffic conditions.
Moers, who was in South Africa for the launch of the Mercedes-AMG GT, tells Engineering News that Mercedes-Benz sold around 46 300 AMGs worldwide last year, up from 32 000 units in 2013.
He believes the 2013 volume can double by 2017, especially on the back of buoyant sales of compact AMG models, such as the A45, while the “momentum behind the C63 is unbelievable”.
“Our portfolio is also set to expand further.”
The most important markets for Mercedes-AMG are the US, Germany, the UK, China, Japan and South Africa.
Mercedes-Benz South Africa (MBSA) aims to increase sales of the AMG performance brand by 32% this year. This will add to the 63% growth seen from 2013 to 2014, when sales rocketed to 1 600 AMG units.
The current surge in AMG sales will not prohibit the “one person, one engine” philosophy at the brand, which requires each performance car engine to be built, from start to finish, by the same master engine builder.
“We think we can continue this tradition as we expand, yes,” says Moers.
The average age of an AMG customer is between 40 and 50, and largely male, he notes. However, in China, the buyer can often be in his 20s.
Moers does not believe that the rest of Africa holds the same potential for the AMG brand as South Africa, despite the upward mobility of the middle class in sub-Saharan Africa.
“There is no momentum yet for performance cars in the rest of Africa. We don’t see markets with a strength similar to that of South Africa, no.”
South Africa is currently one of the testing grounds for Mercedes-Benz vehicles, including AMG cars, with Upington and surrounds, for example, a location for hot weather testing.