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



@papa jim, Chris, Gregory Stevens--My initial comment on this story still stands.

@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.

@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.

@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.

More truck options is a good thing

@Jeff S and Trucker

Try telling that to the average-sized Ford dealer!

The F150 offers so many trims, drivetrains, wheelbase and lifestyle options that the dealers are stressed to maintain an inventory on the lot, without going deeply into debt to do it.

Don't forget that those same dealerships have spent a fortune during the last ten years training their service (and sales) teams to deal with hybrids, plug ins, turbos and all the other stuff.

i know some folks who recently sold their dealership and it had been in the family for generations. It had gotten to be too much.

Just keeping up with the products and training is challenging enough, but the cost of keeping a ton of pickup inventory on site is too much for many of the dealers.

Now with the expected arrival of the Ranger and Bronco, there will be more inventory, and more dealers who decide to retire early.

True it is expensive but the payout is great and the time to recover costs is much shorter than most other types of businessess. 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.

My initial comment on this story still stands.

@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.

I agree with Jeff S.

At some point the Global size pickup could become the standard US pickup.

You make an excellent and highly skilled observation.

Here's a tip.

None of your posts are enlightening. Please write less and start listening more.

"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."
---- Posted by: Trucker

Valid points indeed, but if you look at the prototype of the Santa Cruz, it used a bed-extending technology that gave you more length when you needed it without making the everyday size of the truck too large. A small truck--a true compact truck--would rarely see a full-length load unless they need to haul lumber or rolled carpeting, etc. For DIY purposes, a short bed with a bed extender capable of supporting 500# or so would more than meet such a user's needs. And if the starting price is around $18K and topped-out price doesn't exceed $30K it would offer enough price differential to properly open the market for them.

I think the X-class will do fine in the US, it will initially be the only premium pickup in the market. Why buy or lease a high end trim mainstream brand, when you can have the real deal instead.

Mercedes has a 2.0 turbo gasser that offers performance on a par with the torque of the better DOHC V6s from 10 years ago, with much better performance across the fat part of the RPM range.

If I understand correctly it is scheduled to be available in some markets as the base engine next year.

If they brought that truck to this country and it did not compete effectively in the $30-40k price range you could be sure that Honda's Ridgeline and the other high end midsize trucks never had a chance to really mainstream in the US market. The half ton crew cab is the sweet spot.

Because it won't be premium. It will be a Metris in pickup form.

@papa jim--I didn't say that Mercedes should stop making sedans, I said that without crossovers and suvs in their product mix they might not be doing so well. I don't thing most of America mixes with the Palm Beach crowd or the Hamptons, but I am glad you do. The Palm Beach and Hampton crowd also drives Rolls Royces and Bentleys which you don't see as much of unless you go to Hollywood. Even Porsche has a Porsche Panamera. I doubt Porsche would even have an suv if they didn't see an opportunity to increase their market and profitability. Since you have an in with Mary Barra you should tell her to make a rear wheel drive V-8 sedan. Cadillac and Buick would be a good candidate for a rear wheel drive sedan with a V-8. Put the LT 4 in a big Buick or Cadillac.

@Rich--Dito for you. You posts are not enlightening. di

@papa jim--I don't see anymore of a problem for a Ford dealer to stock Rangers than Toyota dealers to stock Tacomas, Nissan dealers to stock Frontiers, and GM dealers to stock Colorados and /or Canyons. Maybe you are just biased and cannot tolerate Ford offering a Ranger. Seems that there are a number of commenters on this site that want to buy a Ranger. I don't have a problem either way but then I am for more choice and letting the manufacturers decide what they will offer.

Jeff, The only thing you're good at posting is being ret@rded. Sit back and read your posts. There is no help for you.

@Jeff S

The people who are designing the cars that hit the showrooms 10 years from now are not looking in southern Ohio or Arkansas for inspiration.

I only mentioned the elite neighborhoods in New York or West Palm or Chicago to illustrate a point for you, and you take exception to it.

Sorry it did not work for you

For the cost of a V-8 Mercedes you can get a nice Tahoe.

@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, RoadWhale™, and Trucker are the only ones making any sense and enlightening commentary. Kudos to them.

@papa jim--No they are not looking at Ohio or Arkansas nor are they looking at Palm Beach or the Hamptons. The car companies are looking at the over 300 million middle class and upper middle class Chinese which will buy a lot more luxury vehicles than the entire US. Not enough people from Palm Beach and the Hamptons to cause a significant shift in a Global market place. Papa Jim the World no longer revolves around just the USA--we are a waning power.

@Vulpine--Thanks. I don't look at vehicles based on what I like, I look at the trends that are happening now and at the Global market. The World is changing and the last time I looked the USA is part of the World.

@Vulpine--Thanks. I don't look at vehicles based on what I like, I look at the trends that are happening now and at the Global market. The World is changing and the last time I looked the USA is part of the World.

@Vulpine--Thanks. I don't look at vehicles based on what I like, I look at the trends that are happening now and at the Global market. The World is changing and the last time I looked the USA is part of the World.

@papa jim--I am not sorry, it has worked for me. I was raised in Houston, TX in a middle class neighborhood, never wanted for food or clothing, was fortunate enough to get a couple of college degrees from Baylor and University of Houston. I would not be accepted in your Palm Beach and Hamptons set of friends that graduated with legacies from Harvard, Yale, and Wharton School of Finance but I have done well for myself. When I was growing up there were very few parents with Mercedes mostly station wagons and a few with Cadillacs, Lincolns, Buicks, and Oldsmobiles. I was raised in the era when people were not as into German cars and it was not looked down on to drive an American brand car. Maybe some would feel slighted but I was grateful for everything that I had and proud of the USA--we were the leaders in everything and our life style was the aspiration of the rest of the World. If a Mercedes is that important to you then you should get one. You shouldn't have any regrets. I myself have no shame in driving an older American brand, Japanese, or even a South Korean brand. I judge people on what they are not on what they have.

Also the present political climate in the US favors less regulation and cheaper fuel. Posted by: Trucker | Nov 25, 2017

@Jeff S

I've been telling you that for at least 3 years. Sounds like you're coming around.

the World no longer revolves around just the USA--we are a waning power. Posted by: Jeff S | Nov 25, 2017

You've been listening to Big Al for too long.

He's been predicting the next recession ever since the last one. People from every corner of the world give their eye teeth to come here, get educated here, get their medical services here and raise their kids here.

Either they're stupid, or we're doing something right

@papa jim--I read too and presently there is no incentive for more regulations. Things could change in the future but for now this is what it is. This is why there is no incentive to change the size of the half ton trucks, that is what is selling. As for suvs and crossovers they are selling well and for the same mpgs you can own one instead of a sedan. More room, better visibility, and easier to get in and out of than a sedan.

@papa jim--The World does not revolve around the US irregardless of a recession or not. China has a lot more people than we do and China is doing well. Also China is going into other countries and trading with them and giving them loans regardless of their political ideology. Not saying China is right but they are gaining more influence globally while the US is losing its influence.

website is blocking me again.

One note: The REAL Vulpine has a TypePad account, just like me (since it is me) If the 'posted by' does not have a link to the RoadWhale™ page, it was NOT posted by me.

@roadwhale FCA and GM sell compact trucks in Mexico. I don't bet it would be sooo costly to bring them to the US. But this is not happening. Do you know why? Just asking.

@RoadWhale--I hear you, if Papa Jim disagrees with you he is going to accuse you of being either me or Big Al. I never stated that Mercedes would stop making the S class but Mercedes and BMW have eliminated many of their car models to concentrate on lower and higher trim models while adding more suvs and crossovers. This is upsetting to many including Papa Jim but the days of a manufacture offering just a full size model of car and truck are long since over. It is upsetting to some that Chevy no longer offers just an Impala, Belaire, and Biscayne for cars and an Apache and a Scottsdale for a truck.

Papa is also upset that Chevy does not offer a rear wheel drive V-8 powered sedan. The main reason GM does not offer these cars has less to do with Government regulation and more to do with the increased sales of pickups, suvs, and crossovers which have higher profit margins. That is one reason that GM stopped making rear wheel drive V-8 powered Caprice, Impala, Roadmaster, and Olds 98 after 1996. GM determined that even if they could make a profit on these cars it was more profitable to convert these plants such as the Arlington, TX plant to Suburbans and Tahoes. If GM did decide to make another rear wheel drive full size V-8 it would most likely be offered as a Cadillac to compete directly with the German Luxury cars and this would not be a high volume car but a very expensive car targeted for a specific customer such as the Palm Beach and the Hampton crowd.

I am willing to beat there are a number of Land Rovers among those elite and Land Rover does not make a car unless you count Jaguar which now makes their own suv. If and when the time comes when the demand for sedans come back then you will see more manufacturers increase the number of car models they offer. This could happen but I doubt it will happen in the near future.

@Jeff S, Big Al, Trucker, DWFields, Vulpine, Roadwhale, Big Willy, BAFO, et al

For those who have not yet been warped by the idea that central-planners and government bureaucrats are the solution to every challenge, let's agree that the occasional friction that might result from disagreement can be healthy, constructive and even inspirational.

Assaulting those who disagree with you is not the same as rejecting an idea.

Ideas today are pretty disposable.

The average Silicon Valley software startup firm rarely makes it to its first birthday for that very reason. Let's try drawing a line between tearing down ideas (a healthy process) and tearing down people.

@papa jim--You are the one bringing up Government Regulation which had little impact on GM's decision to discontinue rear wheel drive V-8 powered sedans. GM even imported a Holden Commodore under the Pontiac label as a G8 and then did away with Pontiac. Then GM imported the Commodore again as an SS and a police Caprice but did not advertise it--most people didn't know it existed. Why didn't GM decided to make this car in the US or Canada. Both these cars received rave reviews as World class and superior to many of the German cars. Holden discontinued making cars in Australia to concentrate on importing front wheel drive cars and crossovers and suvs from China and Thailand. You could argue that it was Government regulation which in a way it was because the Australian Government stopped giving subsidies to Australian automakers and eliminated the protective tariffs. Government regulations can work either to eliminate competition or to allow more competition. If you really want Government to get out of the regulation business a good start would be to eliminate the Chicken Tax of 25% . Yes there are ways around it but it is ineffective and bureaucratic and has outlived its purpose. What about the President's original plan to access a 25% tax on all goods made in Mexico especially cars and trucks? Another move by the Government to increase costs to taxpayers. The Government not only regulates safety and emissions but it can stifle competition from other countries or can eliminate it. You cannot assume that Government regulations are just one thing.

@papa jim--The Government can also lift tariffs and allow the market to determine free market forces which is deregulation. This was the case in point for the Australian automakers. Some criticize the Government loans and bankruptcy protection that was given to GM and Chrysler. If you truly believe in no Government Regulation then you would be completely against Government loans and bailouts.

@papa jim--You are the one who debates with bad information. If your opines are based in the fact that you worked for a dealership that sold UAW vehicles how good are they? Learn to debate with good information and then you won't be torn down.

@Jeff S

Go to the dictionary and look up the word "Concise."

Heck, I'll do it:

"Giving a lot of information clearly and in a few words; brief but comprehensive"

@papa jim--When all else fails you go on the attack. I gave you specific information which doesn't agree with your perceptions. The information is there, it is what it is. If you want an S class Mercedes then by all means get one and don't carry on about Government regulations.

The Government can also lift tariffs and allow the market to determine free market forces

@Jeff S

Classic liberal conceit.

Fact: Free market forces exist whether the government respects it or not. Go to the most government-managed economies on earth and you'll find black-market goods if you know where to look.

The right to free speech exists everywhere, some governments simply don't respect it.

The right to self defense exists everywhere. I don't need a permit from some government official to defend myself. Go to the most over-regulated cities in the US and you can buy a pistol on any street corner.

You cannot love freedom and also love big government Jeff.

@papa jim-You are twisting in the wind. This argument has nothing to do with the manufacturers offering more rear wheel drive V-8 powered sedans. So do you approve of Government bailouts and loans when it only applies to GM? It is very hard for you to be objective. You must be in favor of the Chicken Tax as well to protect those full size American pickups. Do you honestly believe that we should eliminate all Government regulations? Maybe we should not require any safety standards on vehicles after all those shoulder harnesses and air bags interfere with my ability to move about the inside of my vehicle. Do you honestly believe that auto manufacturers are prohibited from making rear wheel drive V-8 powered sedans? I recall many people stopped buying them and went to smaller cars (mid-size, compact, and subcompact). I would blame slopping roof lines, smaller windows, smaller trunks, and lower profile cars for many of the consumers turning away from sedans. That is one reason why my wife didn't buy another sedan. We like easier ingress and egress in our crossover, the higher profile that makes it easier to see and not having to suck fumes from higher vehicles, bigger windows to see out of, and an actual cargo space that you do not have to struggle to get large things in . I don't recall Government standards as being a factor in choosing our CRV as much as versatility and comfort. Why did your son-in-law and daughter choose a Suburban over a Mercedes S class? Maybe if I had a large place to keep multiple vehicles and the money to have them I would have a sedan but when you are looking for a vehicle that will haul passengers comfortably in the back seat, one that will actually haul something other than golf clubs and a duffel bag, has all wheel or 4 wheel drive, and you can actually see out of then you compromise and pick an suv or crossover. Notice I said I compromised to get 1 vehicle that can do what multiple vehicles do. That is why most of us in the fly over states buy trucks, suvs, and crossovers and not what the country club set buys. Having a versatile vehicle is more important than having something that looks cool and is fast. Why do you think most car companies have eliminated 2 door coupes? The Government didn't make them do it but it was the consumer who didn't want them as much as they use to

@Jeff S

You realize that they ran the ENTIRE federal government in 1910 on less than $500 million per year.

Courts, military and executive branch. The whole ball of wax. It was one of the most prosperous periods in the nation's history for the American middle class.

Today you can't run the average school district on $500 million per year. I don't care if you agree with me Jeff, but at least you should know your facts.

@papa jim--Again you are changing the subject. If you don't like something stop complaining and do something. I really didn't want to get into a political discussion nor do I want to discuss religion. That is one reason I go on auto and truck sites. Get enough politics on the news.

@Jeff S

Private institutions didn't kill more than 100 million people during the wars of the 20th Century---governments did.

You seem to have great confidence in government, and I don't.

Why do Jeff, Weird Al and Roady write these pro big centralized govnt and really long posts?

Because they are brainwashed and it feeds and affirms their elitist opinions they have of themselves. It would take a long time to get through to them if you ever could.

US 1/2 tons will retain their current size. They are used more as SUV's than anything else.

Global Pickups are better, more capable work trucks that are used by one or two individuals on a regular basis, not as a default SUV'sfor the whole family.

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.

Posted by: RoadWhale™ | Nov 22, 2017 8:47:15 AM

Well said.

unless you're willing to admit our current Administration is screwing the American People.
Posted by: RoadWhale™
Well said. Posted by: Big Truck

@Roadwhale, @big al, big truck, big willy, et al

Americans today are registering some of the highest personal satisfaction, and consumer confidence, in over 20 years. You guys need to catch up. Get on the team. Show your pride. We're living in a wonderful time. Record highs for Main Street, (employment figures) and Wall Street

@papa jim--I try not to push my political views on anyone. This website is not the place for a political agenda.

@Dave Z--I have not expressed any political opinions so how can you judge if I am brainwashed. This is not the forum to express political opinions. I also don't want to force religious beliefs or my choice of vehicle. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions and choices.

@Big Truck--Papa likes to get screwed. Now the question is does he prefer Phillips or flat head? Maybe he wants a hex just to be different.

I try not to push my political views on anyone. This website is not the place for a political agenda.

@Jeff S

did you really say that, or did someone post under your name? You are turning into the Keith Olbermann of PUTC comments.

Jeff does the long post thing because he is anxious to position himself as some kind of important blogger, as somebody who is profound. But the more he posts, the more he comes off as the blithering bafoon that he is. This makes for easy pickings by papajim.

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