Maybe US Customers do not want to spend the 9K for paint.
The $130,000 beast is rarely seen in the wild.
The Mercedes AMG GT is a furious sea creature of a car, arguably sleeker and sportier than any road-mobile Stuttgart-based Mercedes-Benz has produced in its long history. It is billed as "the next great sports car," but good luck spotting one of these garish beasts in the wild.
In its first six months on the market, the vehicle has garnered slightly less than 900 customers in the U.S. Meanwhile, Porsche’s 911, the model that the AMG GT was supposed to compete most closely with, found more than 5,000 buyers in that period. The sports car bragging rights in Stuttgart haven’t swayed a bit.
"Generally, we don’t comment about competitors," said Porsche spokesman David Burkhalter. "The AMG is a fine vehicle, but the 911 sales have been pretty consistent." Mercedes declined to answer questions.
To be sure, volume isn't all that important when it comes to six-figure sports cars. Still, the result is incongruous with the amount of noise the Mercedes marketing machine made over this vehicle. There was a lavish Super Bowl commercial and then a TV spot with a not-so subtle tagline jab at Porsche: "The car you dreamed of as a child has just been overtaken."
The machine itself is fantastic. It’s a sexy slip of aluminum with a fighter-jet cockpit bubbled behind a long, low hood. In its guts, the AMG GT has a hand-built V8 that makes 503 horsepower. Motor Trend magazine recently named it “Best Driver’s Car” in a field that included the coveted Porsche.
The car has its critics. Some contend that it's too big to feel like a great, nimble sports car. But petrol-heads shouldn’t read too deeply into the dearth of AMG GT’s on the road. For one thing, a bare-bones Porsche 911 can be had for $89,400, about $40,500 less than the slinky Merc. And sales numbers don’t always translate to profit.
It’s possible that for all of its Porsche-targeted publicity, Mercedes wants to keep its sportiest car far more exclusive, leveraging a sense of scarcity to make the vehicle seem that much more special. Still, Super Bowl spots don't come cheap.
The vehicle has, however, created an interesting wrinkle in the market. Despite all the breathless head-to-head comparisons in car magazines, the AMG GT doesn't appear to be covering the same ground as the 911.
Of U.S. drivers kicking the tires on the sporty, new Mercedes, most aren't even visiting a Porsche dealership. Only about 13 percent of U.S. drivers looking at the new Mercedes are cross-shopping it against the 911, according to Edmunds.com. Rather, they view Mercedes sedans as alternatives to the AMG GT.
The executives steering the company are probably thrilled about this. The research, engineering, and labor that goes into a six-figure sports car doesn't make for a great economic equation, unless the vehicle can lure buyers for cheaper models in the line. That's exactly what the racy Merc is doing.
"It's a really solid showing for a halo car," said Aaron Lewis, a senior spokesman at Edmunds.com.
So is the AMG GT as good as the 911? Is it better? To Mercedes at this moment, it doesn't really matter.