Report: Mercedes-Benz Considered Launching a Pickup – New T Class?
A new report from Road and Track says that Mercedes-Benz thought about offering a pickup truck. This luxury truck would have been an interesting addition to the upscale pickup offerings in North America. Could they reconsider?
The story in Road and Track says that the new Mercedez Benz would have been on the market by the end of 2016. It was to be two different pickups: a full-size version based on the Nissan Titan and a mid-size version based on the next-gen Nissan Frontier. Apparently the drive to develop it was based on VW’s success with the Amarok. Doing the heavy lifting was parent company Daimler which negotiated with Nissan (they have an alliance) to use the “truck architectures, complete with chassis, all-wheel-drive systems and suspension systems, though the latter would have received Mercedes-specific tuning,” according to Road and Track.
With the truck from Nissan, Mercedes-Benz was going to give it specific-tuning and new interior materials. The exterior changes would have been regulated to just the nose and a badge on the tailgate. It seems that this plan was seriously considered with Benz engineers already going over the trucks looking at what they needed to do.
This news comes from last week’s Frankfurt Motor Show. At the show, Daimler officials admitted to killing off the two planned Mercedes-Benz’s pickups.
What caused the problem? Engine offerings. Mercedes-Benz wanted a wide range of engine variants. They felt that Nissan just wasn’t able to engineer all the variants. “Mercedes-Benz sources said that the two-pickup program would only have worked if it had been allowed to tailor the engines for market demands.” This makes sense to many truck market observers since the variety of engines and cab sizes is a big part of Nissan’s pickups lack of sales.
Daimler also created an issue when it wanted to pre-engineer a lighter version of the Frontier for potential hybrid and plug-in versions. This created an issue for Nissan since neither one of these variants were in their original plans.
The Marketing Plan
Mercedez-Benz pickups would have been aimed at higher dollar tradesman and would have been offered in the light commercial division with several cab configurations. It would have been an ideal way for Daimler to quickly double their sales by 2020 (a company goal). Sources told R&D that offering a pickup isn’t entirely dead and they could work out another plan with a different supplier.
Talks of such a luxury truck have been around for a long-time really and the Mercedes-Benz variety has been on again and off again as the market has changed. Daimler has had discussions recently with VW to re-badge the Amarok, but it seems that to has been shelved. There are other market and supplier complications currently that are causing delays of future plans.
What happens now?
Apparently, Nissan sources are saying that their luxury brand, Infiniti, will be given the green light to develop a luxury truck.
Road and Track says an anonymous Infiniti source told them that; “We know about their pickup, but as long as they price it more enthusiastically than ours, we don’t think it will impact our plans.”
Why a Luxury Truck?
Many pickup truck buyers and owners would think the idea of a luxury truck to moronic, yet when you really look at the business side of things, it makes a lot of sense. The largest growing vehicle market in North America is pickup trucks especially higher trim models (see: fancier). Also, consider this; “Edmunds says average transaction prices for large pickups, including heavy-duty models, have risen to almost $40,000, from about $31,000 in 2005,” according to AutoNews.com. This means the demand for such trucks has grown a LOT.
With an average transaction of $40k already and the likelihood that Mercedes-Benz could offer a diesel (they have the know-how), it’s not that much of a stretch to think that they would sell some pickups. Just how many? Who knows. Yet, with the Avalanche’s demise and along with it the Cadillac Escalade EXT (see: $65k+ pickup), the market is pretty wide open for a new luxury pickup offering.
What do you think? Is it time for a Lexus pickup that is a re-badged Tundra? Would a Mercedes-Benz Nissan truck have been a wise choice?
Filed Under: Auto News