Mercedes-Benz ship display ute to Australia
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Cashed-up tradies fuel unprecedented interest
In response to strong demand for the first ever Mercedes-Benz ute, Mercedes Australia has made the unprecedented step of shipping a display X-Class to give buyers an early preview of the highly anticipated vehicle.
News agencies across the ditch are reporting that cashed-up tradies have already placed orders for the new ute – one year before it's due to go on sale and before any pricing details have been announced.
Mercedes Australia has said they’ve been caught off-guard by the demand; the brand has never shipped out a display vehicle one year ahead of the launch date.
“There are more people lining up for the ute than any other model we’ve revealed,” said Mercedes spokesman David McCarthy.
“While most of the interest from customers has been in the premium models, there will also be a choice for people who need a tool-of-trade vehicle.”
Mercedes is still conducting research on the male and fleet market, but also aims to attract female customers.
“Utes are becoming gender netural,” says McCarthy.
“They're just like an SUV to drive these days. They’re no longer only for tradies.”
Driven was at the launch of the new ute last year where Diane Tar, Mercedes-Benz Australia and New Zealand managing director was grappling with the same issue, unsure if the new model should be sold at commercial or passenger dealerships.
“We are considering both,” said Tar.
"It's one of those situations where it sits in the middle, in the sweet spot with the passenger car."
The Mercedes-Benz X-Class will be built on the same platform as the Nissan Nirvana due to an agreement between Mercedes and Renault-Nissan.
The X-Class will be built in Barcelona, Spain, at the Renault-Nissan plant.
Engines for the X-Class will include a V6 petrol, and a choice of four-cylinder petrol or diesel. Both manual and automatic transmissions plus two-wheel, four-wheel variants.
The X-Class isn’t expected to reach New Zealand until 2018 where it will be competing against high-spec models like the Ford Ranger Wilktrack, Toyota Hilux SR5, Holden Colorado Z71 Volkswagen Amarok.
Details on the range, price and specification are still to be announced, but it's expected Mercedes will focus on a top-of-the-line model such as the V6 with 4Matic in New Zealand.