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Monday, Jul 22, 2024

Higher-End Showroom

A formerly empty space at Mercedes-Benz of Thousand Oaks has been transformed into the only showroom in North America for the high-performance vehicles of the Mercedes-AMG brand. Scott Stanley, general manager of Mercedes-Benz of Thousand Oaks, said the center is perfect for reaching the dealership’s community of car buyers that has outgrown the local area. “We have people coming from out of state now, which is a huge compliment to what we have created,” Stanley said. Ron Keller, parts director for the dealership, credited Stanley’s tenacity with landing the AMG showroom. “He is a persistent man and he made a good business case,” Keller said. The AMG division was a startup in 1967 to develop racing vehicles. Mercedes parent Daimler AG acquired a controlling stake in 1999 and renamed it Mercedes-AMG GmbH. It bought out the remainder of the company in 2005 and made it a subsidiary. For consumers, the AMG line features larger engines, turbochargers and other speed enhancements compared to regular Mercedes models. Some of the cars come with hand-built engines. AMG cars also have more aggressive styling and bigger price tags. Stanley said creating a special space for AMG has helped sales. “The business decision was that it was the products our clients want in an environment that is conducive to allowing them to select the correct vehicle, to allow them to view multiple choices, which was not there before,” Stanley said. Customers in the market for an AMG can use the interactive configurator on the large 10-foot by 17-foot wall. The display shows videos and diagrams that can break the components of the cars down to the bearings. “There are hours and hours of information on each particular car,” Stanley said. ‘Supercar people’ Dan Kahn, president of Kahn Media Inc., a Moorpark public relations firm specializing in automotive and high-end luxury brand clients, explained that after-market enhancements like those on AMG vehicles often are not accepted by auto makers but that Mercedes was different and embraced what the rogue racing engineers were doing with its cars. “They saw this brand that had kind of gotten this global name recognition as a performance expert and specialized in making their cars not just high performance but in many cases cooler,” said Kahn, who does not represent Mercedes-Benz but does work with a dealership that competes with the Thousand Oaks store. The appeal of the cars is they are a fine balance of a machine you can drive every day and then take to a racetrack whenever you want, Stanley said. AMG variants come in two-door and four-door models as coupes, sedans, convertibles and SUVs. The cost can range from the upper $50,000s to as high as $200,000. The average price in the U.S. is around $100,000, Stanley said. “There aren’t any inexpensive AMG models,” added Kahn. “They are all fairly expensive because they are all the top-tier line extensions of every product in the Mercedes portfolio.” Kahn called it a testament to the region and to the Thousand Oaks Auto Mall that Mercedes would open its AMG showroom there. The auto mall also has dealerships selling high-end vehicles from Bugatti, Maserati, Ducati, Aston Martin, Porsche and Lamborghini. “Adding (AMG) to the portfolio is really cool because it shows that group of dealerships in that area has become sort of a one-stop shop for supercar people,” Kahn said. “To my knowledge, I don’t think that has ever existed in the greater L.A. area.”

Mark Madler
Mark Madler
Mark R. Madler covers aviation & aerospace, manufacturing, technology, automotive & transportation, media & entertainment and the Antelope Valley. He joined the company in February 2006. Madler previously worked as a reporter for the Burbank Leader. Before that, he was a reporter for the City News Bureau of Chicago and several daily newspapers in the suburban Chicago area. He has a bachelor’s of science degree in journalism from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

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