Mercedes reveals world first premium pick-up truck
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German brand moving into popular market, with X-Class ute in NZ in 2018
Mercedes-Benz has revealed a concept of what it is calling the world’s first premium pick-up truck, the X-Class, in Sweden today.
Based on the Nissan Navara, the X-Class is expected to be on sale in New Zealand in 2018.
Mercedes-Benz NZ says there are no details yet on the price, specifications or exact timing of the ute.
Mercedes-Benz revealed two versions of the X-Class – the stylish Adventurer and the more rugged looking Explorer.
The X-Class ute, or pick-up as Mercedes has categorised it as, will be competing in our market with the high spec models such as Ford’s Ranger Wildtrak, the Toyota Hilux SR5, Holden’s Colorado Z71 and fellow European brand, Volkswagen’s Amarok.
Last year, utes made up 21 per cent of the new vehicle sales in New Zealand, sitting just behind SUVs for most popular picks for Kiwis, according to Motor Industry Association figures.
The Ford Ranger was our top selling vehicle for 2015, and is still dominating new registrations.
It is due to the popularity of the utes/pick-ups in right-hand-drive markets worldwide that has pushed Mercedes-Benz and its Van division to collaborate with Nissan on a truck.
The key markets for Mercedes are RHD countries such as Australia and South Africa plus left-hand-drive Europe and Latin America.
The X-Class combines the ruggedness of the Navara plus the luxury interior of Mercedes and the German brand’s safety and infotainment advancements.
Mercedes-Benz says it is the first premium manufacturer to “account for the changing customer requirements in the global segment of mid-size pick-ups, and it will make the tough one-ton pick-up with seating for up to five persons the first to be attractive as an urban lifestyle and family vehicle”.
Parent company Daimler AG has invested “high nine figures Euros” in the new model series by the time of the market launch.
Head of Mercedes-Benz, Dr Dieter Zetsche, said, "With the Mercedes-Benz pick-up, we will close one of the last gaps in our portfolio. Our target: we want to offer customers vehicles matching their specific needs. The X-Class will set new standards in a growing segment."
The top-of-the-line model will be powered by a V6 diesel in combination with 4Matic permanent all-wheel drive while the ladder-type frame will take a payload of more than 1100kg and have a towing capacity of up to 3500kg.
Head of Mercedes-Benz Vans, Volker Mornhinweg, said, “We will appeal to new customers who have not considered owning a pick-up before."
The percentage of privately used pickups has been growing internationally with the need for a five-person cab while more private buyers want the comfort a passenger car.
Mercedes-Benz says the X-Class will “bridge the gap between commercial and private and between urban and rural use”.
Mercedes has identified five customer groups for the X-Class. One is families with an active lifestyle with key markets being Brazil, Argentina, Australasia, and South Africa.
Urbanites who like activities such as jet skiing make up the second group, while independent individualists use the pick-up as an everyday vehicle in the city, are group three.
Contractors, builders and architects make up group four while cattle ranchers in Argentina, soy bean farmers in Brazil or vintners in South Africa, also use their pickup for commercial and private purposes are the last group.
The X-Class will be manufactured in a production cooperation with the Renault-Nissan Alliance at Nissan’s plant in Barcelona, Spain, next year.
Mercedes-Benz began the joint development with Renault-Nissan Alliance six years ago so it could have a fast and cost-efficient entrance to the fast-growing segment of mid-size pick-ups.