Mercedes-Benz Dashes America's X-Class Dreams, Says a Premium Midsize Won't Work

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
mercedes benz dashes america s x class dreams says a premium midsize won t work

Not unless it’s a big, honking full-sizer, that is.

After giving serious thought to introducing its X-Class pickup in the U.S., Mercedes-Benz has decided to stay away from the American market. Why? The midsize field probably isn’t a good place to make money with a luxurious pickup.

“At that point of time, there is no plan to introduce it in the U.S. market,” Daimler AG chairman Dr. Dieter Zetsche told Motor 1 at the Geneva Auto Show. “The main argument being that in the U.S. market, the premium pickup truck is a full-size pickup truck, and the premium midsize is somewhat of a conundrum.”

The upcoming X-Class borrows the Nissan Navara’s platform, but adds distinctive styling and a heap of niceties. With a maximum payload of 1.1 tons and four doors, the model seemed ready to challenge potential rivals in America’s growing midsize pickup market. Unfortunately for Mercedes, Americans seem to prefer Denali-sized luxury in a generously proportioned vehicle.

“So clearly it’s premium and not cheap, but clearly not expensive either,” Zetsche said of the X-Class’ square peg/round hole identity problem.

Any X-Class sent to the U.S. would be priced above the competition. For the same money, a buyer could likely go the domestic route and get similar creature comforts with a larger cabin, payload and bed size. Besides that, it’s simply easier for an automaker to pile luxuries onto a basic full-sizer, jack up the price by tens of thousands of dollars, and laugh all the way to the bank.

Should the market change, the Mercedes-Benz might reconsider its decision, Zetsche said.

[Image: Mercedes-Benz]

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  • Jeff S Jeff S on Mar 12, 2017

    @Robert Ryan--I thought that the Mercedes truck was going to be based on the Nissan? I would think that would have been a positive because Nissan trucks are solid and have a good reputation for reliability. At one time in the 70's and early 80's Nissan (formerly Datsun in the US) was the best selling compact truck in the US. Also it wouldn't hurt to have some shared parts with Nissan to bring the cost of replacement parts down and make them more available. I realize Mercedes has been making commercial trucks for years but they do not have any background in pickup trucks. I don't think a diesel Mercedes truck would sell in enough volume in the US without a gas version. After the VW emission scandal Mercedes might want to wait and see what happens in the midsize truck market in the US. Also FCA is in hot water with their diesels. Mercedes might also be waiting to see how the Colorado/Canyon diesels are going over and what problems they might have along with waiting to see what the new Ford Ranger will be like and will it offer a diesel option as well. For now Mercedes has made the correct decision in not introducing this truck in the US market. Better to wait till the Diesel Gate is over and they get some more experience under their belts with making passenger trucks. If Mercedes does decide to introduce their pickup in the US they will need to not price it out of the stratosphere as they tend to do in the US and they will need to offer some attractive lease deals to get this truck in consumers hands and not left languishing on dealer lots.

    • RobertRyan RobertRyan on Mar 12, 2017

      @Jeff S, Initial design was supposed to be. Interestingly Nissan engineers are delighted by the input from MB and are learning a lot about new techniques for the project. Jeff It was never meant to be for the US, no Gas engine at all. A lot of MB, VW etc vehicles are huge sellers outside NA, but are not intended to be sold at all in NA one example HDT Trucks

  • Jeff S Jeff S on Mar 12, 2017

    @Robert Ryan--That might be better not to bring this to the US for the reasons I stated above. Without an available gas engine this truck would not sell in the US or Canada in enough volume. It will take several more years for the VW Diesel Gate to become a faint memory. As for Mercedes commercial vehicles there is less attention given to diesel emissions on commercial vehicles and more acceptance of diesels in commercial and farming applications. A diesel Sprinter van would get less focus by regulators and less news coverage than a diesel passenger vehicle.

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    • DenverMike DenverMike on Mar 12, 2017

      @RobertRyan "It neverhad a Gas engine, so really a non starter..." See it would start every time with a gas engine. I don't think I've ever had a gas engine not start, in the last million or so miles, unless I left the lights on or something. I wish I could say the same about my diesels.........................

  • OldManPants OldManPants on Mar 12, 2017

    Truck articles here, particularly mid-size focused ones, sure bring a Gathering of Eagles! And they won't f*cking go away.

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    • OldManPants OldManPants on Mar 13, 2017

      @Art Vandelay True, and they're a valuable sandbox to contain ozzies and rednecks. I just don't want the job of cleaning it!

  • El scotto El scotto on Mar 12, 2017

    Who knows? Perhaps this truck will have storage compartments for your gold necklaces. Less when buying meth and more for going to the club.

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    • Big Al from Oz Big Al from Oz on Mar 13, 2017

      el scotto, Nooks and crannies are great. I think the US leads the world in vehicle storage. Maybe you would have gold and other investments if you hadn't squandered your life. So, a US fullsize that costs $70 000USD OR $95 000 AUD must have cavities for lots more gold.