Mercedes-Benz' Mid-Size X-Class Has U.S. Potential

X-Class 3 II

We have to give Mercedes-Benz credit. At a time when it could overpromise, a la Tesla, or come to market with a new product no one is asking for, a la Hyundai, Mercedes has a methodical plan for introducing its new mid-size pickup truck to the world.

According to Automotive News (subscription required), the new Mercedes-Benz X-Class mid-size pickup, which is a joint venture with Renault-Nissan, will give the automaker entree into the global work-truck markets of South America, Australia and Africa after its European launch.

Scheduled to go on sale in Europe later in November and to the rest of the world throughout 2018 and into early 2019, the slow rollout of the X-Class could bode well for the pickup's arrival in the U.S. By allowing it to slowly enter the demanding world of global commercial fleets, Mercedes is likely to build credibility in large global industries such as construction, mining, agriculture and energy, as well as with small businesses. But there will be significant challenges.

While a shared platform helps all partners save money, how the vehicle performs in comparison to the other major players in the class will be key. The global Ford Ranger, Toyota Hilux, Volkswagen Amarok and others are competitively priced. Here in the U.S., the mid-size pickup market — admittedly a more personal-use demographic — is price-sensitive, and Mercedes is perceived as a premium brand here. That could work against the X-Class. We've seen that scenario play out as Mercedes tried to enter the commercial van market with the mid-size Metris. After two years on the market, the Metris sells about 500 units a month — not quite the success MB hoped for. The U.S. commercial van market is similar to the U.S. mid-size pickup market: small, price-sensitive and relatively few competitors.

The X-Class shares many of the parts of the current-generation global Nissan Navara mid-size pickup, which will eventually become the next-generation Nissan Frontier that's expected to be offered in North America in less than two years. That's long before the X-Class could show up here. By sharing engineering and development costs with a partner, MB gets a global product to market in much less time than if it went it alone. Mercedes has a longtime partnership with Renault-Nissan, so the X-Class includes MB upgrades, including the option of MB's turbo-diesel 3.0-liter V-6 engine.

It's encouraging to see MB step into this segment at a methodical pace, working to build its commercial vehicle credibility first. We like the fact Mercedes isn't rushing to market to try to cash in on the growing mid-size pickup market. We're guessing patience will eventually win out and the X-Class will join U.S. pickup offerings. Now we wish both Hyundai and Tesla would take note. Both automakers have made statements about diving into the deep end of the U.S. pickup truck market with much less reflection and thought.

Manufacturer images

 

X-Class 2 II

X-Class 1 II

 

Comments

Or you could wait till right after Christmas and get a great deal on a new Nissan Frontier 4x4 Crew Cab. You could pay off the Christmas credit card debts with the money you'll save compared to a Mercedes...

any interior pics?

Looks nice but I don't really see the point. The bed is to small to haul anything much, the back seat is cramped and yet it is a luxury vehicle? What do you do with a truck like this?

Meh.

@Mark Williams
The X-Class is primarily aimed at individual buyers not the Commercial sector. MB has plenty of vehicles that are mainstays of the Commercial market outside NA. They do not have to build credibility in that area.
They MB have made it clear they are targeting demographics outside NA. They sell a lot of commercial vehicles that are not sold in NA. X-Class will be another one.
X-Class is all Diesel there are no Petrol( Gas options)

@Mark Williams
Should have mentioned your examples :Ford Ranger, Toyota Hilux and Volkswagen Amarok are all diesels and are not sold in the US.
Ford's recent decision to introduce the Ranger to the US Market means completely new Powertrains for the Range.

completely new Powertrains?

@Robert Ryan

Please name just one. Unless I'm mistaken every engine I've heard mentioned in the articles about the rumored arrival of a T6 derived Ranger has been already available in other Ford models.

@papajim
No, not at all. Ford Ranger in Australia has an all Diesel line up.
Ranger in the US will be configured for the Ecoboost and a Diesel

@papa jim--I doubt we will ever see a Mercedes pickup in the US and if we did it would be a very limited number. I could see the Mercedes pickup selling in Europe, Africa, and Asia.

@Jeff S
Just as you do not see these in NA
https://www.daimler.com/products/trucks/mercedes-benz/

They Mercedes have Freightliner for the NA market and Mitsubishi Fuso for the general Asian market. Bharat Benz for the Indian one.

@Jeff S
Left out Western Star vocational trucks for the NA market

X Class Pickup Truck is going to have driving dynamics handling & ride comfort of a passenger sedan. papajim Ridgeline has that.

Looks like Chevy Colorado,,
Cant Merc designers come up with their own looks?bunch of monkees!LL

@Robert Ryan--True different market. Freightliner and Western Star along with White/Volvo have carved out a slice of the tractor truck market in the US. I don't see the US going to mostly Global sized pickups for years, maybe never. The only exception would be if Global pickups got larger and full size half tons got slightly smaller but that would be if the engine compartment were reduced in size without sacrificing cab and bed size and that might not happen. As long as the Big 3 are selling lots of full size pickups at large profit margins and gas and diesel prices remain stable there is little incentive for the manufacturers to reduce the size of trucks. Mercedes would have a limited market for pickups in the US.

@Chevrolet Builds
Looks like a Benz up front to me just like GLA/CLA other models.
Not much you can do to the pickup truck.
You can make it look like brick on wheels or try to change front to make it different. Honda did and many think it looks not masculine or manly enough girly. Look at 1940s pickup trucks like cars of that time with rounded fronts fascia.

@RIDGELINE OWNER 2007--Good luck getting a response. papa jim is so obtuse.

Mid-size and compact trucks formerly (1980s/1990s) were successful in this market because they could be built on the same assembly lines as contemporary sedans and fuel economy was a factor for some buyers.

Now that fuel prices are reasonably stable and nobody is building body/frame sedans much anymore, the 1980s value proposition for compact trucks has all but died. During the last couple of years the excitement in trucks and SUVs has been in the larger models.

For Daimler to succeed in the US with pickups they should explore the high end of the full size SUV and pickup market, not the midsize space.

The commercial segment is super competitive and Daimler's dealer network of luxury-car dealers has zero experience in that realm.

@papajim
They are already succeeding in the US Commercial market. They srll Freightliner, Western Star trucks and Mercedes Sprinters Vans. They hafe no intention of entering the Pickup market midsisecor fullsize.

Daimler's dealer network of luxury-car dealers has zero experience in that realm.

@Robert Ryan

C'mon Ryan!

How many Freightliners did Mercedes dealers sell in the US last year? None, right?

I don't believe that Mercedes needs to prove itself in the global market. Even the X Class will be readily accepted and pricing alone will be the primary determining factor for its success.

As for the X Class US arrival, "it ain't goin to happin" until the chicken tax is gone. There is enough difference between this and the Navara to not allow for line sharing. Quality on the line will be another reason not to share the line. You don't see Audi sharing lines with Skoda or Seat.

Well the chicken tax stops a large number of good pickups selling in the US.

My answer to that would be how many Chevrolet Silverado' were sold by Cadillsc dealers? Answer would be none
Mercedes is the Corporation , not just a car brand that owns Freightliner, Western Star, and Sprinter Vans. It sells cars and vans separately ,branded Mercedes in the US through Mercedes dealers. Freightliner and Western Star have separate dealership networks

Bit of late news related to the introduction of a new manufacturer making Pickups This is about KIA. Sister brand Hyundai is doing the same
https://www.goauto.com.au/future-models/kia/ute/kia-sets-sights-on-hilux-with-ute-due-in-2021/2017-11-22/67652.html

Bad answer.

GM Cadillac dealers sell Sierras and some sell Silverado and Sierra.

@Chris,
My point Mercedes sells Vans and Cars in one Division. Trucks are sold in seperate dealerships.

@ Jeff S
They will retain the same size,with what not has been shown , 8ft utility beds.
Major difference as regards US Pickups is the Global versions emphasis on their considerable Off Road ability AND substantial payload. Hilux being very very good off Road. Diesels are the engines of choice

It looks like a clone of my 2016 Tacoma double cab!!

Is Papa UAW Jimbo lying or twisting?

Trucks are sold in seperate dealerships.

@Ryan

Are you looking for a rhetorical way out?

You just made my point. Mercedes dealers in the US are not presently selling "commercial" vehicles, apart from luxury cars and SUVs.

Mercedes is not going to create a new network of dealerships under that brand for the purpose of selling commercial pickups.

If Mercedes enters the truck market, look out big 3.

-CT

If Mercedes enters the truck market, look out big 3
Posted by: crunchtime | Nov 22, 2017

@CT

Please tell us more. The Big 3 sells over a million pickups each year.

How many pickups does Mercedes have to sell in the US to achieve your vision of success?

The only reason Mercedes has had any success in the US during the last 20 years is because American firms have stopped build the large comfortable family sedans that American families wanted.

The market for big crew cab half ton trucks and SUVs only picked up after Olds, Buick, Chevy, Ford, Chrysler stopped making their signature autos. If companies like BMW, Mercedes and Honda want to really impact the market, they'll have to build the large cars, SUVs and trucks that Americans love.

If they bring X Class pickup to U.S. will be more of niche vehicle.
People that can afford it like pro ball players athletes types golfers
celebs ect. This is crowd that might already have a Benz or Range Rover type vehicle in their stable. They would care a lot less about it's off-road prowess and more about style ride function. So like a luxury Range Rover but pickup truck use everyday driver type vehicle. I see AMG versions running around.

I'll give the Merc credit for one thing: it's the best LOOKING truck out there right now, second to the Chevy Colorado. No pretentious, fake, Big Rig grill to spoil otherwise clean lines. Since we don't yet know for sure what the Ranger's grill will be, I have to hold judgement on the Ford.

"Mid-size and compact trucks formerly (1980s/1990s) were successful in this market because they could be built on the same assembly lines as contemporary sedans and fuel economy was a factor for some buyers." -- papajim
---- False statement. They were not built on sedan lines but rather CUV/SUV lines, namely the Ford Explorer and Chevy Blazer

"Now that fuel prices are reasonably stable and nobody is building body/frame sedans much anymore, the 1980s value proposition for compact trucks has all but died. During the last couple of years the excitement in trucks and SUVs has been in the larger models." -- papajim
---- "Reasonably stable." Right. With fuel prices rising yet again and diesel especially rising towards $3/gallon we're seeing another bump that is this time NOT associated with any storms. And while the big numbers certainly are with the bigger trucks, the mid-size and smaller are still holding their own. My guess is the mid-sized truck buyers are holding back to see what the Ranger is going to look like while the CUV/SUV market is still going strong.

"For Daimler to succeed in the US with pickups they should explore the high end of the full size SUV and pickup market, not the midsize space." -- papajim
---- Only an American egotist would say something like that; in nearly every other country those "mid-sized" trucks ARE full-sized trucks. Anything bigger is classified as a commercial or fleet vehicle.

"The commercial segment is super competitive and Daimler's dealer network of luxury-car dealers has zero experience in that realm." -- papajim
---- Zero experience perhaps. But when you consider that pickup trucks in the US have become luxury vehicles first and working vehicles second (especially the half-tons) then I don't see where they'll have any trouble selling them on their luxury features.

Mercedes got into the US pickup truck market 20ish years ago, it was called Dodge.

Its another silly little truck for the fans of silly little trucks. They should be happy with/about it if it happens.


On a note to the author:

"At a time when it could overpromise, a la Tesla,"
---- whose only 'overpromising' has been the timing of their production...

"or come to market with a new product no one is asking for, a la Hyundai,
---- except that people HAVE been asking for a smaller product than mid-sized...

"Mercedes has a methodical plan for introducing its new mid-size pickup truck to the world."
---- To the world, yes. Do you know their American plans any better than anyone else? You imply here that despite your own beliefs that America's mid-sized market is 'saturated' that this Mercedes, as well as the VW Amarok and others, might just blow the mid-sized market open... to the detriment of the full-sized trucks. Now, I'll admit I have my own opinion about full-sized trucks and I'm still betting that the global-sized pickups will end up dominating even the US market over time, since they're already roughly the size of vintage American pickups. American trucks got bigger because it was a loophole to escape CAFE restrictions. It's getting to the point now where CAFE as such is about to become irrelevant, with battery electric, hydrogen fuel cells and more conventional hybrids adding anywhere from 50% to 200% improved mpge.

Mercedes REALLY needs to improve the quality and reliability of their vehicles before jumping into the pickup world. US pickup truck buyers expect 200,000+ mile reliability and durability. Mercedes hasn't built a reliable, low-maintenance vehicle since the late 80's E-class.

Today Mercedes vehicles are plagued by electronic problems and check engine lights. That won't work in the US truck market.

"Mercedes REALLY needs to improve the quality and reliability of their vehicles before jumping into the pickup world. US pickup truck buyers expect 200,000+ mile reliability and durability. Mercedes hasn't built a reliable, low-maintenance vehicle since the late 80's E-class." -- nlp

---- Remember, Mercedes is the Chevrolet of the German automakers. They've never really been worth what Americans have been willing to pay for them.

@Roadwhale

you have not been listening

You are confused about fuel prices and the market for vehicles. These prices are dollar-related. This year the dollar's buy power is down against a host of commodities, including oil.

I can't help you anymore.

"You are confused about fuel prices and the market for vehicles. These prices are dollar-related. This year the dollar's buy power is down against a host of commodities, including oil.
I can't help you anymore. ---- Posted by: papajim


No, papa, you're the one who's confused--that is, unless you're willing to admit our current Administration is screwing the American People.

@Robert Ryan--Agree, the US pickups will probably never have the same capacity as the Global ones because the US has separate categories like 3/4 ton and 1 ton, but having said that a Global truck can still be made for the US and NA market by modifying it to the US standards. The platform can be shared. Right now there is not much incentive for the Big 3 to change their full size half ton trucks because even though they are unique to NA and there are separate development costs not shared with Global trucks the cost to develop and tool is recovered over the large volume of sales. There would have to be more changes in Government regulations and a significant decrease in sales volume and development costs to change the size and type of pickups offered for full sized trucks. That might happen eventually but for now there is little incentive to change them. I am not judging what type and size of truck is best but why change something that is working. I myself prefer the Global size but I am content with the current midsize trucks offered and hope that in the future their is enough market to continual to offer them. More truck options is a good thing.

@nlp--Agree but this is not unique to just Mercedes. BMW, Audi, VW, Jaguar, Land Rover, Alfa Romeo, and a host of other European vehicles. Also the cost of parts and service for European vehicles in the US is very high compared to US, Japanese, and South Korean vehicles. Much less expensive and easier to get parts for a Chevy and Ford than a Euro offering. Because of these factors I have no interest in Euro vehicles. Mercedes would have some major obstacles to overcome to compete in the US pickup market.

papa- I only say this because there is so much more to Mercedes than the big 3 anything. I currently own a C class car ( not a big car, but the small one). I have owned several Chevy and Ford cars, and there is absolutely no comparison. I know the big 3 tries to compare to the BMW, Lexus, Audi and so on when it comes to cars, but after owning them I can say the imports blow away the big 3. This is just my personal opinion to take it with a grain of salt. If I were in the market for a mid size truck and Mercedes was in the mix, I would most likely not even drive the big 3 versions and buy the Mercedes. Again juts my personal opinion here.

-CT

screwing the people?

@Roadwhale

You are deluded. Stop watching TV news. It is designed to make you anxious--it's clear they succeed in your case.

Good bye for now.

@papajim what large cars do American families love are you living in the 1950s-1980s The day of the family sedan is over.
It has been replaced by midsized SUVs and Crossover vehicles.
They offer more utility and flex ability comfort for the families.
So unless you really want a 4 door sedan people are going with the other vehicles and most don't want big SUVs Navigator/Suburban but midsized MDX, Highlander Pilot Santa Fe
Lexus crossovers.

@papajim I am not forgetting the so called American brands as either. So you have vehicles like Traverse Envoy Enclave Pacifica
Cadillac XT5 then you have slightly smaller CUV vehicles like Honda CRV Rav4. So why would I want a Chevy Impala when I can get greater multi use from Traverse or Honda Pilot SUV laying the seats flat for carrying stuff cargo and people.

the family sedan is over

RIDGELINE OWNER 2007 | Nov 22, 2017

so, who is buying all of the E-Series and S-class Mercedes sedans sir?

What about the 5 Series BMW (and 7 series)? Volvo's big sedan? Buick Lucerne? Chevy Impala? Toyota Avalon?

I can keep going, but you get the picture.

papajim the day of the family sedan is over they are making them but only certain models sell. I hear companies are going to cut out production of some sedan models. I am not saying they are going away completely but people are buying for function utility. I myself would not buy another sedan unless it's something I really like and I could afford 2 newer vehicles.
My first car was a Honda so that's what I always had but other brands of vehicles in family that I drive. I have aged Acura sedan low mileage for it's age. But I would never get another sedan. The newest version TLX AWD is nice but I would not get that over a MDX or Pilot. Newer Ridgeline offers me even more utility flex ability with like comfort in a pickup truck. I don't need the extra seating.
I have several neighbors that have switched to crossovers from 4dr sedans. Next door had used Dodge sedan smaller they had for a year. They switched to Hyundai Santa Fe bigger more room utility. Elderly 80s neighbors down street had big Buick before that Cadillac always been big cars know them for 50+ yrs. She got SRX this last year probably used but they are in 80s. He has Impala always had big Buicks or Chevy.

anecdotal evidence is not accepted.

I don't care what your neighbors own. Go look at the models that sell.

Then ask people what they really want to have.

They want big and bigger.

"
You just made my point. Mercedes dealers in the US are not presently selling "commercial" vehicles, apart from luxury cars and SUVs.

Mercedes is not going to create a new network of dealerships under that brand for the purpose of selling commercial pickups."

They are not selling these in the US, so they never will. X-Class is part of their Van division.

@Jeff S
To a great extent the NA market is not on the agenda for the manufacturers. You are getting over 30% growth globally in Pickup sales. Estimate that 2.8-3 million vehicles annually outside NA.
Hyundai and it's sister company KIA will be producing pickups in 2020. No the Hyundai Tuscon based mini Pickup is only for the US

@Roadwhale
"Now, I'll admit I have my own opinion about full-sized trucks and I'm still betting that the global-sized pickups will end up dominating even the US market over time, since they're already roughly the size of vintage American pickups. American trucks got bigger because it was a loophole to escape "

They could get smaller. But they are only marginally bigger than the current Global offerings
That is 1/2 tons. A difference in use could see the US 1/2 tons retain their current size. They are used more as SUV's than anything else.
Global Pickups are used by one or two individuals on a regular basis, not as a default SUV'sfor the whole family.



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