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

@RIDGELINE OWNER 2007--Below substantiates your statement on sedans. There will always be a limited market for premium sedans but the Impala has for the most part been displaced by the Silverado and and the Taurus and Crown Victoria by the F-150. Most people want the head, leg room, ride height, and capacity of a pickup that most sedans have lost. There are few V-8 powered full size sedans on the market and the coupe like styling of 4 door sedans leaves little headroom and comfort for hauling passengers.

http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/tag/midsize-sedan-death-watch/
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2017/08/midsize-sedan-deathwatch-14-july-2017-sales-plunge-fifth-everybody-falls/
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2017/05/midsize-sedan-deathwatch-11-april-2017-decline-car-market/
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/ttac-wants-america-doesnt-u-s-full-size-car-sales-plunging/
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2017/06/june-2017-u-s-auto-sales-likely-slid-sixth-consecutive-month-incentives-transaction-prices-rise/

@Robert Ryan--Again I agree. The NA market is more unique. China is the market that has the most potential for growth and that is where the manufacturers for the most part are concentrating on. With the exception of full sized pickup trucks, suvs, and muscle cars most of the vehicles are geared toward a Global market with emphasis on the Chinese market. Robert don't interpret my remarks as supporting the US NA market as much as the manufacturers are making money on full size pickups in the US market and there is little incentive to change that but when it comes to cars like the Impala, LaCrose, Taurus, Fusion, and other sedans these are based on Global vehicles. Only when there is a change int the full size truck market in the US will the Big 3 change their trucks to a Global platform.

@Jeff S

Or maybe the conditions will be in reverse? As the global economy picks up steam, consumers in other places will want full sized trucks.

The F150 is VERY popular in the more prosperous countries in the middle east; ditto the Suburban.

India and China love the American life, and American lifestyles.

We'll see!

They are not selling these in the US, so they never will.
Posted by: Robert Ryan | Nov 22, 2017

Is that an opinion or a prediction Robert? Never is a very long time.

@Papajim
" that an opinion or a prediction Robert? Never is a very long time."
Neither, they stated from the outset they were after the Global a Pickup market. Just as you do not see Mercedes Cabover Semi's in the US, it is not the market they have targeted. Although the Cab Over Semi Market is extremely profitable for them


Jeff S writes "Robert Ryan--Again I agree. (and again I disagree with papajim.)"

Didn't papajim used to manage a Mercedes dealership? I'd say you should listen to him more because he knows more about this stuff than a lot of you.

@ Papajim
"The F150 is VERY popular in the more prosperous countries in the middle east; ditto the Suburban."
No they are not as I have been to those extremely hot mini states . Try Landcruisers and Nissan Patrols,they are everywhere .

@Chris
A Mercedes Dealership does not have anything to do with Freightliner and Western Star operations. It only sells ,Vans, SUV's and cars in the US.

@Robert Ryan

You are evidently an expert on Dubai, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. When they get really hungry for some F150s and Suburbans over there, I hope they can obtain your permission to buy one.

@papajom
It really does help.in you have actually travelled to said States. Landcruiser and Patrol dealers are doing a roaring trade. ME customers do go off road with their vehicles. Subirban and F150 are on road. Exception the Raptor which is more dune jumper than off road vehicle

I doubt that sales of full size pickups will overtake Global pickups in most of the World. The US and Canada is a much different market than the rest. The Big 3 are doing well enough in the NA market selling full size pickups but having said that they would not turn down any additional Global sales. Many countries tax vehicles with higher displacement engines heavily so even if there were a larger market many would not buy one just based on the additional taxes. There are also high tariffs on larger vehicles as well.

@Chris--There are too many obstacles for Mercedes to overcome in the US market. Mercedes would have to sell enough pickups to make it worth their while in the US. For one thing the extreme loyalty that most trucks owners have to the Big 3. In addition look at Toyota and Nissan who have competed for years and with the exception of the Tacoma have lagged behind the Big 3.

@Robert Ryan--At some point the Global size pickup could become the standard US pickup but not in the foreseeable future. At this point it is hard to predict what US regulations will be and the price and availability of fossil fuel. Short-term that will not happen but who knows what will happen in the next 30 to 50 years. Also the present political climate in the US favors less regulation and cheaper fuel.

@Jeff S
US Pickups are pretty irrelevant outside NA even in a country like Australia where you would think they may have had a chance.
Go to be interesting times to see how the Global Pickup market develops in the next couple of years.

@Robert Ryan--More of a niche market for US full size pickups in the Global Market. The market in China is the one to watch.

@ Jeff S
Chinese are not great fans of Pickups. SUV' s yes and they make a lot themselves for the Chinese market.

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

On a per-vehicle basis? Tesla sells more Model S or Model X than either of those two.

"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."

That is exactly my point. Once CAFE is no longer a factor in truck production, those global models will become the full-sized truck around the world, including in the US. Why? Because they are already so close in size and the smaller one is cheaper to build, even if only marginally.

papajim may be outnumbered, but he is the only one making sense here.

In an earlier comment Robert R and Jeff S made references to global markets, and related trends.

As the worlds tier two nations begin the process of adopting western lifestyles and living standards, their driving habits will probably include some upgrades as well.

A key metric will be the expansion of paved roads and highways.

The 4wd UTEs that are so popular in some parts of the world today will probably give way to smoother-riding cars and trucks more adept at highway travel---just as it did here in the US during the years following WW2

@Robert Ryan--That maybe true for now but the Chinese seem to like American music, food, and Buicks. There might be a growing market for pickups as well. Pickups have become more than a utility vehicle they have become a family vehicle and have become status symbols when you add all the bling to them. With the popularity of the crew cab pickups have become more popular. As for size the full size reigns in the US and Canada but for the rest of the World the Global size.

@RoadWhale--Eventually the Global size might become the full size truck in NA but I believe that is years away from happening. Ford, GM, and FCA are making too much money off of full size trucks and they pay for everything else the manufacturers are doing. True it is expensive to design and retool for new models but the payout is great and the time to recover costs is much shorter than most other types of vehicles. For now and the foreseeable future there is little incentive for the manufacturers to reduce the size of the full size truck. Also it might take future generations to want something different. I would like to see a true compact truck introduced on the US market like the Hyundai Santa Cruz but I would prefer an extended cab with a slightly larger bed. The price would have to be competitive for a compact truck to succeed.

Ford, GM, and FCA are making too much money off of full size trucks...

@Jeff S

Your comments about global vs NA sized trucks reveals a bit of confusion. US manufacturers are a bit slow to react, but their business model is to be-first-with-the-most. Always.

Just look at the way the Big 3 have adopted in-car communications and electronics during the last 10 years.

Back in 2009, GM offered On-Star, Ford was trying to copy it, and Chrysler had nothing to compete with it at all.

Today they've all developed wonderful products to address that interest in the market, it just took a long time. And it wasn't painless.

Changing the size of trucks is easy compared to that. And don't presume that American trucks won't get even bigger.

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.

@Roadwhale

Do high fuel prices at the pump bug you? If so, write your Congressman.

Tell your elected representatives that you are tired of the US Highway Trust Fund being used to pay for green projects.

Tell them that fuel taxes are too high.

Tell them that if they're serious about cutting the taxes that middle class families pay, a cut in the federal gas/retail taxes will go straight into the pocketbooks of American consumers.

Most importantly, go to the US Department of Energy website and notice that the pump price for regular unleaded peaked in 2013. Since then it's come WAY down.

Be sure to write your Congressman. You'll do that, right?

poopajim,
Acutally the biggest selling vehicle in the UAE (which includes Dubai) is the Toyota Landcruiser wagon.

F-150s are scarce, but there are many more GMC single cabs. Dual Cabs are not popular in the UAE.

Work trucks are Hiluxes, Tritons, etc.

Know your facts.

@Big Al

Recently the news reminds us that life in the Arabian Peninsula is changing, it is not a snapshot.

As paved roads and highways continue to expand there and elsewhere in the world, F150s and Suburbans will very definitely be on the rise. Dare I say it: The big Toyota SUV is a dinosaur.

Happy Thanksgiving!

@ papajim
You can only build so many roads in a desert. When they build more roads that means more Landcruisers and Patrols, ghey are happy on toads and sand not the F150

poopajim,
You work for the UAW. Your comments are invalid.

@papa jim--I doubt the full size trucks will get bigger because people have to put them in their garages and they have to park them. Not that easy to park a 3/4 ton and 1 ton in a garage or most parking places especially when many parking lots have been re-stripped to fit more vehicles in them. Anyone that wants a truck bigger than a 1/2 has plenty of choice. By getting smaller I mean that the interior space and the bed capacity will likely remain the same but with smaller engines it would not be that hard to take a foot or foot and a half off of a half ton especially with a smaller turbo V-6. Also I would doubt that the manufacturers want to increase the size of half tons to compete with their existing 3/4 and 1 ton trucks.

I did not mention anything about adopted in-car communications and electronics during the last 10 years but that is true as well. If you read my comments you would see that I stated there is little incentive for the Big 3 to change the size of their trucks unless forced to do so by stricter emission and fuel standards which don't appear to be a factor in the current regulatory environment. The full size pickups are among the most profitable vehicles made by the Big 3.

@Jeff S
Pickups have much lowerr ranking than even in Europe. SUV's are now the Status symbol you aspire too

there is little incentive for the Big 3 to change the size of their trucks unless forced to do so by stricter emission and fuel standards which don't appear to be a factor in the current regulatory environment.

@Jeff S

Detroit will build the trucks that people want. If GM came out with a larger truck that had a roomy crew cab and a bigger bed, it would be a hit.

Most of my friends use their garages to store stuff---their lawnmowers, the 67 Mustang they're restoring, their tools and gear. If there is any room left over they park the wife's car in there.

@papajim the day of sedan is over.
papajim look at any dealers new car inventory all those midsized SUV/CUV compact CUV they are selling would probably represent a sedan sale if those vehicles were not available.
Many of these vehicles didn't even exist 10-15yrs ago.
So that Ford Explorer/ Escape sale would have been a Taurus/Fusion/Focus sale

Papajom,
I've been in the UAE for the past 6 months. US vehicles are becoming more prominent. But its nothing like the US market.

Full size pickups here are used as cars.

I have a 5 litre F150 dual cab, Ecothirst Expedition and a Sorento.

As for the highways, it changes daily, a GPS is almost useless and the highways are packed. The UAE have an open vehicle market, unproted, like Australia's. Like Australia, you will have a full size show pony alongside a Tata dual cab wirk truck.

the day of sedan is over

@ridgeline

Tell that to the guy who just dropped $120k for a Mercedes S Class

@Big Al

Watch your back. Life is cheap there.

poopajim,
Watch your back. Life is cheap in Tampa.

@papajim--Maybe your friends in Florida leave their vehicles out but most people where I live will park their cars and trucks in garages. I doubt most of your friends in Florida have to scrape their windshields and warm their vehicles up during the Winter. I think GM would have a flop on their hands if the made a larger truck. I doubt that a bigger half ton would have any more capacity and if someone needs extra capacity they will buy a 3/4 and 1 ton trucks which GM can sell for more money. If you really want a large vehicle you can find an older crew cab Navistar which is based on a large truck chassis. A bigger half ton truck would require larger brakes and a heavier suspension which would be pointless since for not much more you can buy a heavy duty. Kind of pointless to make a large half ton truck when you can buy a heavy duty. Manufacturers can make more money adding additional electronics and higher trims without having to increase the size. Ford has mastered the art of adding additional trim packages such as Platinum and King Ranch and GMC with the Sierra Denali. There is more than enough room in a full size crew cab pickup for a family and a dog.

If you really want a bigger truck the link below has them
http://www.ebay.com/bhp/international-crew-cab

@Big Al--Papa Jim has no idea of what it is like in the rest of the World and he has forgotten what it is like to deal with a real Winter where there is snow and ice. I doubt they see much ice or snow in Florida--it is not a common event. In my neighborhood most people use their garages to keep their vehicles and store lawn and garden equipment. I have seen a lot of new Tacoma crew cabs and Colorado/Canyon crew cabs as well--they are becoming as common as F-150 and Siverado crew cabs which are also very abundant. Crew cabs outnumber extended cabs because many who own them use them as family vehicles. Most crew cabs have shorter beds because most people do not want to drive a longer vehicle and many do not need the larger beds. Those around me who need larger trucks will buy HDs. Even a couple of my nephews replaced their half tons with 3/4 tons to get the capacity and for towing with 1 nephew with a Cummins Ram.

@RIDGELINE OWNER 2007--Agree sedan sales have been in a death spiral over the last couple of years. Papa Jim does not read other websites nor does he keep up with the automotive news. Mercedes, BMW, Jaguar, Audi have all increase production of SUVs because of waning sedan sales. Many experts believe that in a few years that sedan sales will level off but that is after many manufacturers discontinue their car lines as FCA has done with the Dart and the Chrysler 200. The decline in sales of sedans is good news for the consumer wanting a sedan especially those that are coming off of leases. The deals on sedans are much better than pickups, suvs, and crossovers because there is a glut of them especially midsize sedans.

Here's another Navistar MXT 4x4
https://95octane.com/2017/08/16/international-mxt-4x4-for-sale/
This would have plenty of space inside the crew cab. Chevrolet could easily build these in the Navistar plant in Springfield, OH but I doubt there is enough demand for them. A custom builder could take the chassis and put a pickup bed on them.

@Jeff S

Maybe you guys don't have Mercedes, or BMW or Audi up there in Kentucky, but around here there's a prosperous economy and the luxury brands sell very well. Their parking lots are jammed with brand new inventory almost all of which is sedans and coupes.

Of course the M Class an GL SUVs are popular too.

You've read stories talking about the over production of plain sedans like Toyotas and Nissans. The high end stuff is selling very well.

@papa jim--We have Mercedes, BMW, and Audi but more suvs than sedans. Yes we have sedans but more and more suvs and trucks. There are at least 2 Mercedes dealers in Cincinnati and 1 in Northern Kentucky which I pass by on the way to work. The dealer in NKY has mostly suvs and vans. The days of just being exclusively a car company are over. Why do you think Mercedes, BMW, Jaguar, and Audi have introduced more suvs in their products? As for where you live you probably have more retired people with money than NKY or Cincinnati especially you would have snowbirds escaping the Winters. My neighborhood has more families especially those in their late 20's thru mid 40's. A luxury brand is more likely a suv or truck than a car, I am 4 years from retirement and plan on moving to a warmer climate but I will most likely never own another sedan because a higher profile vehicle is easier to get in and out of and the visibility is much better. One of the reasons people are getting away from sedans is because of the coupe like roofs and smaller windows. That is one reason why crew cab pickups have become the replacement for the sedan in many households. Also if you are going to spend Mercedes and Euro luxury money on a vehicle you can get a nicely equipped crew cab pickup for less.

Why do you think Mercedes, BMW, Jaguar, and Audi have introduced more suvs in their products?

@Jeff S

Simple, during the last 20 years Mercedes, BMW and Audi have sharpened their focus on the long term growth of the market in North America.

Growth in Europe has been zilch during that time. Even staid automakers like Jaguar and Rover were forced to adjust their mix.

@papa jim--Yes, and what is selling? Hint, one starts with a c and another an S. Where else is Mercedes, BMW, Jaguar, and Audi focusing on? Hint, fasting growing market for vehicles even surpassing the US and it starts with a capital C.

I guess I miss your point Jeff. Go back over the last 20 years and look at the sales data. The big European luxury makes have all been selling (front engine/rear drive) sedans and coupes in the US.

It wasn't till about 2008-'10 that BMW, Volvo and Mercedes started showing up with decent CUV and SUV product. Even later for Audi.

The bigger story in my opinion is that Chevy and Ford surrendered the V8 sedan market without much of a fight.

Chrysler did a good job with the 300-C sedan, actually sold a lot of the V8 300. It could have been even better but Chrysler was a financial basket case by 2005.

@papa jim-- i didn't really miss the point. Mercedes has done better but if you take the cuvs out then Mercedes is not doing so well. For the cost of a V-8 Mercedes you can get a nice Suburban, Tahoe, Silverado, Sierra, or Ram. There is nothing wrong with an American made V-8. True trucks are expensive but if you compare them to the equivalent sedan with the same features and engine the truck will usually beat the sedan for value. The Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger are not a bad value for the money but FCA has put any redesign of these cars on the back burner and the rumor is that both will end up like the Crown Victoria, Grand Marquis, and Town Car left with no new design and produced until either the tooling and dies are worn out and the sales decrease where neither is profitable. Even the FCA twins are losing sales. FCA needs to build a new body on frame suv and needs to get a competitive crossover. GM is actually ahead of the competition with their suvs and crossovers. Even the Germans are not competitive with GM when it comes to suvs and crossovers. People are switching to crew cab pickups and truck equivalents. Sedans will not die but there will be less of a market for them and more manufacturers discontinuing sedans.

@Jeff S

your view is overly subjective.

Papa wrote:
don't presume that American trucks won't get even bigger.

Jeff wrote:
There would have to be more changes in Government regulations to change the size, that might happen eventually but...

---

Papa is right and Jeff is wrong again. F150 cab grew 6 inches in 2009 and the 2019 Silverado is expected to match or beat the F150. Name the regulation that caused this. Jeff S likes to write a lot but he doesn't know what he is talking about. We can go round and round with thus topic but papa just keeps slapping your I'll informed posts away like flies.

@Jeff S

You once said you think Papajim is older than you.

So for the love of God please listen to your elders and stop bloviating.

My initial comment on this story still stands.

If you want a nice mid-size pickup that shares a lot of its bones with the upcoming Mercedes X, get to your Nissan dealer before the end of the year and grab a nice crew-cab V6 Frontier.

I know they get panned for the old school interiors, but it is a otherwise really solid truck at a really old school price. Or you can wait and see if Daimler decides to ever sell the Mercedes X in the US. Your call.

@papa jim--Your view point is over subjective. I based my opinion on other websites like TTAC which actually give data by manufacturer and vehicle type. Maybe in Florida the seniors drive my sedans like Mercedes and BMW but in most of the country suvs, crossovers, and trucks are what is selling.

@Gregory Steven--You obviously did not read my above comments. I said at the present time and near future there is no incentive to reduce or increase the size of the current trucks. Six inches is not that significant of a change in the size of a truck. Over a foot would be significant. Do you know for absolute certainty that the full size pickup will not change sometime in the future? I never definitively stated that the size of the full size trucks will change, I stated it could change if Government regulations change. Could is not an absolute. I do not see any major changes in the size of any of the current trucks in the foreseeable future which could be 10 years or could be 50 years. Do we know for sure what type and size of vehicle people will be driving in 50 years or if people will even drive? I don't know and I will not be driving anything if I am alive in 50 years.

@Chris--Papa is not old enough to be my father. I have 2 brothers older than Papa. Having said that Papa is stuck in the past and by that I don't mean recent past, more like the 50's and 60's. The glory days of the V-8s and land yacht sized cars has passed with the exception of a few hold outs. The closest vehicle to an Ford Galaxy and Chevy Impala is an F-150, Expedition, Suburban, and Silverado. I am not saying that I don't have fond memories of those vehicles but their days have passed. With the exception of FCA, if you are willing to spend up to 100k for a car you can get a rear wheel drive V-8 powered Mercedes or BMW and some people do but not the vast majority. If you are Mercedes and BMW and you only make cars you will not be in business. That is why Mercedes, BMW, Audi, and Jaguar have expanded their product line to include suvs and crossovers. Even Cadillac, Lincoln, and Buick (Buick once advertised they do not make suvs and crossovers and never will). Things change. Nothing ever remains the same. Question, are you driving the same type of vehicle your parents and grandparents drove? For most of us the answer is no. I don't drive a Chevy Impala 9 passenger station wagon or a Cadillac Sedan DeVille. I don't drive a single cab pickup with 3 on the tree (if you don't know what 3 on the tree is papa or I can explain that to you).

@papa jim--I agree with you on the Frontier but I don't see a resurgence in cars anytime soon.

you can get a rear wheel drive V-8 powered Mercedes or BMW and some people do but not the vast majority.

@Jeff S

Go to the Hamptons on a pretty fall afternoon, or West Palm Beach at Christmas, or Wrigley Field on opening day.

The cultural and business leaders of western civilization are having their parties and rubbing elbows with the Hollywood/Silicon Valley crowd.

These folks might get driven around in Suburbans and GL Benz SUVs on weekdays, but when they are partying they show up in the S-Class Benz, the Bentley or the Maybach.

V8s and V12s. Roomy. Hand stitched hides cover the dash and the seats.

They aren't worried about the gas mileage or the gas guzzler taxes. It is still the standard. Sedans will be around for a long time.

Detroit suffered when the big honkin sedans got killed off by EPA and CAFE. They'll be back.



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