The Korea Herald


[Herald Interview] Mercedes-Benz strives to be iconic

Large glass roof will be applied to 4 cars on new, electric-first platform

By Kan Hyeong-woo

Published : Sept. 5, 2023 - 15:28

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Gorden Wagener, chief design officer at Mercedes-Benz (Mercedes-Benz) Gorden Wagener, chief design officer at Mercedes-Benz (Mercedes-Benz)

MUNICH -- For over 100 years, Mercedes-Benz has looked to embody luxury in its vehicles, and the German automaker has lived up to expectations, seeing its iconic logo become one of the most beloved symbols across the world

Through the unveiling of the new Concept CLA Class -- an electric vehicle complete with extraordinary technologies and a remarkable design -- at the IAA Mobility in Munich, Mercedes-Benz Chief Design Officer Gorden Wagener says the brand is now looking to personify youth.

“We always look for iconic products and make our brand iconic,” said Wagener in an interview with Korean reporters on the sidelines of the IAA on Monday.

“The (existing) CLA is very iconic because it made the brand’s transition from (our) fathers to the next generation. The CLA is probably our youngest car. Therefore, it’s important that (the Concept CLA Class) is youthful and young. People like that youthful image because everybody wants to be young.”

As for the Concept CLA Class’ most distinctive features -- the Mercedes-Benz logo head and rear lamps -- Wagener noted that the automaker will apply the same features to the four cars that will be developed on the new electric-first Mercedes-Benz Modular Architecture, or MMA, platform.

“We positioned the new signature for Mercedes and I think that (it's) ... almost a no-brainer to use the star signature as the front and rear lamps,” he said. “You get a really distinctive look together with the eyebrow(s) so that every Mercedes is instantly recognizable."

Wagener underscored how the rear lamps in the three-way Mercedes-Benz star shape can resemble an exhaust on an electric vehicle. He also expressed his regrets towards the light designs of some competitors, adding that they are "playing with different" things too much.

"I think it’s a pity. But we go the other way. We create this iconic, new element," he said.

On the previous day, the German automaker laid out the plan to build four cars -- a four-door coupe, a shooting brake model and two sports utility vehicles -- on the MMA platform with the CLA Concept Class’ products expected to be launched at the end of next year.

Wagener explained that Mercedes-Benz will keep the novel glass roof that covers the entirety of the ceiling from the front seat to the back seat with only one pillar in the body of the Concept CLA Class for the next three models to be developed on the MMA platform, as it has many advantages.

“There’s this new technology (that lets) you illuminate the glass roof. You can put certain patterns in, like a star pattern. For sun protection, you can shut it off so that no light goes through,” he said.

“Last, but not least, it gives us three centimeters more headroom. That means we can basically make the car three centimeters lower, which is of course great for the design proportion (and) also for aerodynamics.”