BMW's Description of the Mercedes-Benz X-Class Pickup Truck Is Decidedly Unkind

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain
bmws description of the mercedes benz x class pickup truck is decidedly unkind

“They build fantastic cars,” BMW senior vice president Hendrik von Kuenheim told Australian automotive media at the Frankfurt Motor Show. “But this one was a disappointment.”

von Kuenheim is talking about the Nissan Navara-based Mercedes-Benz X-Class pickup, a truck not presently destined for North America but one that will appear across the region for which von Kuenheim is in charge: Asia, Australia, South Africa.

“I saw that car in Geneva and was actually disappointed,” BMW’s von Kuenheim says. “Very disappointed.” Calling the X-Class “appalling,” and suggesting we “would have expected something more serious,” von Kuenheim’s comments about the body-on-frame Mercedes-Benz pickup accompanied a number of revelations regarding a future BMW truck.

Don’t expect a BMW pickup to rival the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2.

Far from describing the auto press as fake news, BMW’s senior VP was fully on board with journalist opinions when it comes to the X-Class. “I listened to some of your (media) colleagues from other countries,” von Kuenheim says of early X-Class critiques. “They said it was very cheap, very plasticky, not very much Mercedes-like what you would expect.”

A BMW pickup truck, which von Kuenheim says has progressed into an investigatory stage, would be very different if it ever came to fruition. Rather than the utilitarian approach of the Stuttgart competitor, Motoring reports, “It has to drive like a typical BMW and also has to fulfil the true BMW genes,”

BMW Australia’s managing director Marc Werner says. If the SUV/crossover sector’s share of the market keeps rising past 60 percent, Werner says, “there is also space for a ute,” at BMW. Ute, you’ll recall, is Aussie-speak for a pickup truck.

The difficulty for BMW, von Kuenheim says, isn’t the perceived lack of demand, but rather the company’s priorities. Progressing to the next stage of internal combustion engines, furthering hybrid technology, establishing electric cars (which, “at the moment, if you look at Tesla, is not really a great profit opportunity,” von Kuenheim says), entering an autonomous driving era, and figuring out fuel cells are all areas in which BMW needs to spend money. “So you need to prioritise yourself. What do we want to do. And from all the priorities the pickup is maybe not number one or two priority.”

But Hendrik von Kuenheim and Marc Werner, because of the markets they represent, have a particularly urgent position on a BMW pickup truck. von Kuenheim has a BMW pickup rendering on his phone case; Werner says, “I personally believe, having been in Australia for more than three years, that there is room for a luxury ute, which is not there at this point in time.”

It will, if a BMW pickup truck ever does transpire, certainly be less shocking to the enthusiast system to see, for example, a Hofmeister kink on the side of a pickup truck, than it was to see the first BMW utility vehicle. It’s been two decades since the BMW X5 exited a South Carolina factory. “Now we have an X1, X2, X3, X4, X5, X6, and X7,” von Kuenheim says, “and who knows what else is coming.”

“We have a responsibility,” says BMW Australia’s Marc Werner, “to fulfill customer needs.”

[Image: Daimler AG]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and and the founder and former editor of Follow on Twitter @timcaincars and Instagram.

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  • Bazza Bazza on Sep 15, 2017

    “would have expected something more serious”. Oh the irony, as the clowns at BMW have avoided "serious" for quite some time now.

  • NMGOM NMGOM on Sep 15, 2017

    TTAC: "“We have a responsibility,” says BMW Australia’s Marc Werner, “to fulfill customer needs.”" He's kidding right? The "needs" in America are pickup trucks!!!! Hello, Earth to BMW: are you listening??? Pickup trucks comprise 3 out of 5 best-selling vehicles in this country. How can BMW ignore that? Over the past two years, I even made a marketing case for such a top-performing, BMW-genes-laden pickup in "Roundel" Magazine, repeatedly. They could extend the X5 chassis, open the bed, and, Bingo: pickup truck! This is not rocket science, folks. Bloggers have even done the design work: No serious BMW response. Why the foot-dragging? It would no longer prostitute your pristine performance image, BMW: you already did that**! ... (^_^)... ------------- ** That pathetic 2006 E-90 3-series was such a dog that a Honda Civic could beat its pants off. I know. ------------- =========================

  • Jeff S Corey Lewis--GM designed those cars shortly after the 1978 oil crisis caused by a reduction in oil production in Iran and the eventual over throw of the Shah and the Iranian hostage crisis. GM anticipated gas would be $5 a gallon and up and that there would be shortages of oil. By the late 80s the supply of oil stabilized and gas and diesel prices stabilized. Ford didn't have the resources to completely redesign all their cars and except for the midsize, compact, and small cars that were front wheel drive and that is why Ford held onto the Panther platform for so long. GM just on the X car design and development spent 2.5 billion dollars and spent at least another billion on the C platform that was used on those 1985 full size front wheel drive cars.
  • SilverCoupe I am one of those people whose Venn diagram of interests would include Audis and Formula One.I am not so much into Forums, though. I spend enough time just watching the races.
  • Jeff S Definitely and very soon. Build a hybrid pickup and price it in the Maverick price range. Toyota if they can do this soon could grab the No 1 spot from Maverick.
  • MaintenanceCosts Would be a neat car if restored, and a lot of good parts are there. But also a lot of very challenging obstacles, even just from what we can see from the pictures. It's going to be hard to justify a restoration financially.
  • Jeff S Ford was in a slump during this era and its savior was a few years away from being introduced. The 1986 Taurus and Sable saved Ford from bankruptcy and Ford bet the farm on them. Ford was also helped by the 1985 downsize front wheel drive full sized GM cars. Lincoln in 1987 even spoofed these new full size GM cars in an ad basically showing it was hard to tell the difference between a Cadillac, Buick, and Oldsmobile. This not only helped Lincoln sales but Mercury Grand Marquis and Ford Crown Victoria sales. For GM full size buyers that liked the downsized GM full size 77 to 84 they had the Panther based Lincoln Town Cars, Mercury Grand Marquis, and Ford Crown Victorias that were an alternative to the new GM front wheel drive full size cars that had many issues when they were introduced in 1985 and many of those issues were not resolved for several years. The Marks were losing popularity after the Mark Vs. 1985 was the last year for the rear wheel drive Olds Delta 88 and rear wheel drive Buick Lesabre the rear wheel Caprice and Caprice Classic 3rd generation continued till 1990 when it was redesigned. B Body Buick Estate wagons continued thru 1990 as the Olds Custom Cruiser wagon and both were redesigned. GM held onto a few rear wheel drive full size cars but the Lincoln ad really brought home the similarly looking front wheel drive full size cars. Lincoln's ad was masterful.