Mercedes planning up to three entry-level models for U.S.

Mercedes-Benz hasn't offered a true entry-level model in the United States since the C230 hatchback, but the German automaker is readying as many as three compact models to launch in the United States over the next few years.

Rumors of an entry-level Mercedes-Benz model for the United States have been swirling for years, with the German car maker finally confirming those reports at the Geneva Motor Show. Joachim Schmidt, Mercedes' marketing head, revealed at least two compact models are destined for the U.S. market.

Mercedes is developing two compact models for the United States based on the next-generation B-Class platform. The United States is in line for a hatchback and SUV model, but Mercedes is also considering "a very stylish sedan". Given the U.S.' propensity for the three-box automobile, we suspect the sedan will eventually get the production nod.

Mercedes-Benz has yet to schedule a launch date for the new range of entry-level models, but don't expect to see the cars on our shores until at least 2012. The next B-Class won't make its European debut until 2011, with Mercedes taking a wait-and-see attitude with euro-dollar exchange rate and U.S. fuel prices.

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