Mercedes adds hi-tech features

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IOL br AUTOSHOW Reuters. Dieter Zetsche, the chairman of Daimler and the head of Mercedes-Benz Cars, shows off the new Mercedes-Benz 2015 C-Class on Saturday in Detroit. The overhauled C-Class was displayed to the media during a preview on the eve of the opening of the 2014 North American International Auto Show. Photo: Reuters.

Frankfurt - Mercedes-Benz is adding touchpad technology pioneered by the iPhone and an iPad-like display to the C-Class sedan in a bid to surpass BMW in sales.

The C-Class will also come with technology from the flagship S-Class sedan, including a 360-degree camera and six radar sensors.

The German car maker unveiled the model’s first overhaul in seven years at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit on Sunday.

“Luxury customers are becoming much younger, especially in Asian markets,” said Sarwant Singh, an automotive partner with consultancy Frost & Sullivan in London. “They are looking for more gimmicks. The new C-Class is much more exciting.”

Mercedes has been fighting back after losing its ranking as the top-selling luxury brand to BMW in 2005 and dropping to number three in 2011.

The new C-Class, which goes on sale in Europe in March and in the US and China in September, will help Mercedes overtake Audi sales next year, according to forecasts from IHS Automotive.

IHS estimated that C-Class sales would surge 30 percent in 2015 from last year. That would help lift Mercedes deliveries 17 percent to more than 1.7 million vehicles next year.

Hi-tech options on the C-Class include a display that projects speed and navigation instructions on the windscreen to avoid distraction. The touchpad allows the driver to flip through functions or zoom in and out of maps or other images on the central display, which resembles a small tablet computer. – Dorothee Tschampa from Bloomberg

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