Sprinter-Based Pickup Could Be Solution for Mercedes

MB 4x4Pickup Truck II

A lot has been written about the possibility of a Mercedes-Benz midsize pickup coming to the global marketplace by 2020. First Mercedes officials announced the possibility from Germany; then The Wall Street Journal reported M-B would partner with Nissan to build its new global entry. Now Automotive News is reporting that Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn says there is no binding agreement that makes the partnership official, adding no decisions have been made.

Clearly, this is good theater and makes for plenty of splashy news stories. The fact remains that we're not any closer to a midsize competitor for the U.S. market. All of this discussion centers on a global commercial entry into a solid global marketplace from a maker of many commercial vehicles. Whether a Mercedes-Benz small pickup comes to market in the U.S. is just as likely as discussing whether the globally popular Mitsubishi L200, Volkswagen Amarok or Ford Ranger will eventually come to the states. House money, at least in the near term, is clearly on that not happening.

It makes perfect sense that a global commercial player like M-B would want to offer a global midsize pickup for better access to the significant midsize markets in South America, Europe and Africa. Conversely, it probably doesn't make much sense to invest vehicle production time, engineering and design work (even if it's on a shared platform) into a midsize pickup that would likely not sell well in the U.S. at the price Mercedes would need to make the project profitable. That's especially true in light of the fact that the U.S. midsize segment is not likely to go through a major expansion any time soon. A moderate expansion, maybe — but not a significant one.

With all that said, there still might be a way for Mercedes to come to the U.S. with a strong and unique commercial pickup that could offer impressive technology, capability and "rough luxury" to a new and practical buyer. M-B could use its Sprinter commercial van (preferably the 4x4 version) as a platform for a full-size pickup body.

The result would be economical and powerful diesel engines; a solid, low-slung chassis ready to haul plenty of cargo; and a mountain of safety technology already housed in the current Sprinter computer software. Add to that a potentially low load floor, reasonable towing and an all-wheel-drive setup (with an available low-range option) that would make any delivery company, oil producer or construction fleet buyer quite happy. Once Mercedes starts making Sprinter vans in this country (now they're built in Germany and reassembled in the U.S.), we imagine costs will come down considerably. The timing for all of this could happen well before 2020, the supposed target date for a global Mercedes midsize pickup.

We're not saying it would be easy, but we are saying there may be more money in it for M-B in the long run if it jumped into the much larger U.S. full-size pickup market with a real commercial entry (we know Nissan and Toyota made half-hearted attempts to service the commercial side of the workforce when their full-size trucks debuted). Making the full-size pickup buyer happy first would be a wise decision. Then, if things went well, Mercedes could add an extra trim package or two for those who want a little more comfort and luxury. All the full-size pickup makers have figured out how much money there is to make with premium trim packages and added capability. And it seems like M-B might know something about the luxury end of the spectrum.

Theo Chin/Chris Doane Automotive illustration

 

BenzPickup_illus_33115_2 II

 

Comments

If their new pickup is not half ton (or more) rated, it won't do well here. The mid size market is just too small for another player.

Regarding potential payload, you do realize the Sprinter already has a higher payload capacity than half ton pickups?

Even as a quadcab it should easily be able to beat the payload of most of the mid-sized competitors, if not all.

But seriously Ford needs to bring back the Ranger!

You are up to something PUTC

http://www.autoblog.com/2015/03/10/mercedes-sprinter-plant-south-carolina/

Why wouldn't they build something based on the G model?

The way Ford screwed up the F-150 all the other vehicle makers smell blood in the water

2015 Chevy Colorado 4100 miles, transmission out.
http://www.carcomplaints.com/Chevrolet/Colorado/2015/transmission/no_forward_gears.shtml#1

I own a Sprinter and Nissan Pathfinder LE and would say to Mercedes that Nissan doesn't have nearly the standards for production, reliability, or customer service people have come to expect from Mercedes. Ask Nissan about the problem known to exist with their fuel tank relay - they refuse to fix it or recall - whereas if there is any known defect or problem like that with Mercedes, you get a letter with a warranty extension, recall or other fair resolution. Let's hope Nissan doesn't screw with the Sprinters like it has with its customers.

The potential for a Sprinter based full size in the US market at the moment seems to be distant.

A Nissan Titan or a extended wheel base Patrol pickup is a viable proposition as the running gear and chassis are already developed and successful.

MB owns part of the Renault/Nissan Alliance and the Renault/Nissan Alliance also owns part of Daimler. Sort of similar to the Ford/Mazda relationship.

I would like to see a MB full size alongside its other commercial vehicles.

The US needs more competition in it's pickup market.

MB do have some nice V8s and diesels to use, then let AMG make some real muscle.

Mark Williams
That sort of concept is the "Pickup Truck" they already use in Europe, from 5,500 to 10,000lb depending on Manuafacturer
This is a short wheelbase Sprinter on a construction site, a fairly typical scene there, although this is a stage PR shot
http://image.motortrend.com/f/wot/updated-mercedes-sprinter-gets-more-safety-tech-powertrain-tweaks-360979/59363386/mercedes-benz-sprinter-cab-chassis-front-three-quarter.jpg

Mark Williams
Global Pickup Truck sales combined is on par or bigger than all NA production and sales. Isuzu non existent in the US, sells roughly 600,000 from several factories in Asia

@Mark Williams,
The US pickup market is a mature market. There isn't much room for full size expansion. So the current pickup manufacturers will more of less take sales from each other.

The US pickup market needs to open up and allow more and cheaper pickups onto your shores.

The problem with the expansion of the US full size market is having enough consumers interested in a full size pickup, that importantly have the means to purchase and operate one.

This is where the US is hitting a ceiling with the numbers of full size pickups.

What FCA/Ram is doing with the unitary Doblo/Cherokee "ute" come pickup is a good idea. It will offer a cheaper way into a pickup.

This is what is lacking in the US market. Cheaper pickups to target a larger socio-economic market.

This is also where it is necessary to drop the chicken tax to allow cheaper global style midsizers into your shores.

When this occurs you will see a further expansion of the US pickup market. By expansion I'm talking serious numbers, not the ebbing and flowing of numbers due to the state of the US economy.

The global pickup market is expanding at an accelerated rate. This where the pickup action is at the moment. There are a multitude of choices out there in the global pickup world.

The US with it's protective and regulated barriers has created a unique pickup market. The US has missed to boat in producing pickups that will sell in sufficient numbers outside of NAFTA.

The US could of been the global leaders in pickups. But, it chose to protect Detroit at the expense of a far larger market, the world.

My comment isn't stating there isn't a full size pickup market in the US, there will always be. But maybe the distortion created by the barriers, tariffs and regulations has now created a dinosaur. I just hope it doesn't become extinct.

"@- mature market and room for expansion. Leave your fat gut out of this. What moron in America would buy this over a real pickup? Those immigrants stealing our jobs and social security will buy it."
What idiots outside a NA would buy a U.S.1/2 ton instead of one of these?

When VW was developing the Amaroc, they stated parts were based on the Crafter (itself a Sprinter).
@woopud- the G wagon is a low volume, hand assembled specialist. They actually have cab/chassis models that are 3/4 ton rated and super pricey.

@MrKnowitall,
The Amarok is only using engine and drivetrain componenets from the Crafter.

The chassis and vehicle itself was designed from the ground up.

I see if I can dig up an article I read regarding how VW bought a Hilux and stripped it down and measured every part of the vehicle to make the Amarok.

VW used the Hilux as the benchmark for their design.

@ Mr Knowitall
They sell quite a range of them here now, not that expensive, but are geared for heavier commercial work.
As I stated previously from roughly 6,000lb for both the Renault and Sprinter. The IVECO Daily is a full ladder version, that goes to 10,000lb. Renault used to have a similar Cab Chaasis to the IVECO, called the Mascott, but that was killed off when Renault Trucks was sold to Volvo
The curent 2.3 Litre Cab Chassis is part of Renault, with a roughly 5,500lb close to 6,000lb payload

@Mr Knowitall
Renault Mascott
http://www.topspeed.com/trucks/truck-reviews/renault/1999-2010-renault-mascott-ar128209.html

A normal service would cost between $700 to $1200, a brake job $1500 to $2000, cat back exhaust would be $1500 in parts only.
Hope you have lots of money to spend keeping it on the road.
You need special tools if you want to work on it yourself like those 12 point metric inverted fasteners.
Your Craftsman tool kit won't work on this vehicle
NO ! You can't do the brake job yourself with vice grips!

Why wouldn't it do great here?
It's another $50k pickup truck and will likely have an available diesel that gets poor fuel economy but people will want it anyway.

Ugly front end, couldn't kiss that with my bucks. The back is okay.

@RRMc it is. An artists rendering from Pickup Trucks.com
Did not come from Mercedes/ Daimler

If Mercedes does, they better do a much better job of coating and painting than they did the Sprinter. here in New England, they rusted out after only a few years. Not Good.

Have a buddy with a Sprinter. One fugly looking expensive van that is for sure.

No thanks...

Why can't we just have the Unimog?! I remember back around 2004-2006 International made a pickup-style truck from one of their medium duty platforms and while it didn't sell well it certainly got a lot of recognition.

The mog already has a cult following and would be a way for Mercedes to go from the class 1-3 market up through class 5 or so and market towards the off-road needs. People in this arena are already used to a price premium so why not?

Suzuki also went the route of having nissan build trucks for them with a Suzuki badge on the front and rear. Ask them how that worked out after they increased the price 15% for a profit after paying nissan to build the frontier and badge it a Suzuki equator. It lasted ummm 4yrs? Suzuki lost lots of money on the deal too.
If you can't build your own line, don't do it.



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