Mercedes X-Class future on the rocks? Brand's divorce from Nissan imminent
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It arrived last year, and — for the most part — the Mercedes-Benz X-Class double-cab ute was a success.
It was well received among critics ... us included. It was no secret of course that the X-Class shared a lot of DNA with the Nissan Navara, but the German marque had gone above and beyond to make the platform quintessentially Mercedes (apart from that Nissan car key, perhaps).
But, is the X-Class's future a short-lived one?
In an interview with German publication Manager Magazin, Mercedes boss Ola Källenius has said that the brand are set to "end the co-operation" with the Nissan-Renault group, because "almost all common businesses are in the red". The report later adds that Källenius "will gently drain the alliance [...] without hurting anyone.
It's no secret that Nissan aren't exactly a picture of stability at the minute, given all the happenings around former CEO Carlos Ghosn. But there are other potential issues here, too.
The Manager Magazin report suggests that the X-Class hasn't lived up to tall sales expectations (a trait that looks to be consistent in Australia and New Zealand, too). They add that the X-Class is currently losing Mercedes-Benz money.
It's also worth pointing out that the alliance between Mercedes and Nissan-Renault group is a partnership that was formed between Ghosn and former Mercedes boss Dieter Zetsche. With both bosses departed, there may be less desire to continue the relationship.
There are now three big options for Mercedes to consider. Mercedes could develop their own platform from the ground up, they could find another dance partner, or they could simply ditch the ute segment altogether.
If they elect to find another partner, they'll be walking into a rather complicated situation. Toyota and General Motors are the only two mainstream manufacturers who make their own utes without platform sharing (Ford and VW are working together for the next-gen Ranger/Amarok, Mazda and Isuzu the next-gen BT-50/D-Max, Mitsubishi and Nissan the next-gen Triton/Navara, and so on).
Keep in mind, Mercedes are scheduled to continue selling X-Class models for the next four years. These utes aren't likely to completely disappear from showroom floors any time soon.
If this sees the end of the X-Class, it would be a sad end for a curious and interesting segment-crossing exercise — one that a lot of people had their eyes on.