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Business

Mercedes Unveils New E-Class

After 48 months of development and an investment totaling more than two billion euro, the new Mercedes-Benz E-Class celebrated its world premiere at the Brussels Motor Show on January 15.

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Mercedes hopes the sun is rising on sales of its new E-Class.

Hoping to capitalize on the earlier financial successes of the popular E-class line, Daimler-Chrysler announced the arrival of its new sedan with great fanfare.

All the leading car and driver magazines were invited to Brussels on Tuesday for the much-touted unveiling ceremony. Even the location was well-suited for what the company surely hopes will be regarded as the number one European car of the year.

Daimler-Chrysler has a lot riding on the success of the 2002 E-class model.

In what industry experts predict to be a weak year for auto sales, the German-American company plans to produce around 200,000 of the new E-class sedans. This was as many as were sold in the previous 2000 series model, when the economy was in a much better position.

With a price tag of $48,000 to $71,000, it seems like a tall order.

But Mercedes is confident they can sell them all. In fact, in 2003 the company plans to increase production ten percent.

Starting in mid-March, the new sedan will be available in Europe. In mid-summer the car will make its way to Japanese showrooms. And in the fall, North American consumers will finally see the car with the famous star.

New design

Fans of the previous model are sure to find everything they like in a luxury car and more.

Compared to the earlier E-class series, the 2002 model is slightly broader and rounder, with a heftier rear. The definition and streamlining is also more pronounced than the forerunner, giving this year’s model a sportier look.

Inside the car, the sedan sets new standards by offering a wide range of technical innovations relating to vehicle safety, comfort and handling.

The entire series comes equipped with dual front airbags, rear door-mounted side airbags, and curtain side airbags. All cars have the BabySmart automatic child seat recognition system, an anti-lock brake system (ABS), ASR traction control, Electronic Stability Programming (ESP), and Brake Assist which applies full braking force in emergency stops.

The standard 2002 edition comes powered by a 221-horsepower 3.2 liter V6 engine, while the top of the line high-performance model has a 5.4 liter V8 engine with an impressive 349 horsepower pull.

All 2002 E-Class models utilize a five-speed electronically controlled automatic transmission with driver-adaptive shift logic and Touch Shift selectable manual control.

Standard features also include a theft-deterrent system, full-leather seats, TeleAid automatic call system for emergency and convenient communication, dual-zone climate control, ten-way power adjustable front seats, a power tilt and telescoping steering column, power windows and door locks, cruise control, an AM/FM stereo cassette and new 16-inch alloy wheels.

If that’s not enough for the discriminating consumer, Mercedes can outfit the car at special request with an "elegant" or "avant-garde" interior. Both include a lot of wood, chrome and leather and some of the extra-extras like a Bose premium sound system and heated front seats.

Mercedes-Benz E-Klasse

Best seller

The E-class series is one of Mercedes’ Benz most popular lines of mid-price cars. Since 1995, more than 1.4 million E-class models were sold. In the 50 years of manufacture, the E-class has accounted for more than 50 percent of the company’s car production.

The company has also been successful abroad with the E-class. In 2000 it was rated the best-selling imported luxury car in the United States.

Daimler-Chrysler would like the same type of success the 2002 series. If the company meets its goals for the year and sells the entire production of 2002 models the company will be able to stave off months of steadily dwindling sales figures.

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