People around the world love American culture. Movies, music, blue jeans — if its says USA on it, people can’t get enough of it. The same thing is true, apparently, when it comes to automobiles. The American mania for pickup trucks has surreptitiously infected the consciousness of people all over the world. They, too, want to emulate those urban cowboys who like to motor on down to Home Depot to pick up a 2×4 and a box of finish nails while perched on heated and air conditioned leather seats.
Mercedes knows a market opportunity when it sees one, and so it has linked up with Nissan to turn an ordinary Frontier/Alaskan/Navarra into a full zoot Mercedes panzerwagen for the well heeled. “With the Mercedes Benz pickup, we will close one of the last gaps in our portfolio,” said Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche in a press statement. “The X-Class will set new standards in a growing segment.”
The lowly Nissan will be treated to two exterior upgrades. One, known as the Powerful Adventurer, will feature a high ride height for increased ground clearance along with extra protection on the wheel arches, an electric winch at the front, and a metal hook at the back. The more genteel Stylish Explorer will have more of an SUV feel to it with cleaner lines, flared wheel arches, and 22″ alloy wheels.
Inside, both will offer Mercedes customers the luxury touches they expect, from tushie toasters to touchscreen connectivity. And of course that enormous three pointed star planted in the middle of the steering wheel to remind them they paid a lot for more for their vehicle than those who settled for a garden variety Nissan. Expect interior appointments similar to those found in the C Class sedan.
Mercedes says truck shoppers aren’t just interested in a workhorse type vehicle anymore; they want a vehicle for both “private and commercial use.” They are “families with an active lifestyle and an affinity to premium products,” and “successful adventurers who live in an urban environment.”
The truck will be built on a ladder frame chassis and equipped with a robust 3.5 liter V-6 engine. Payload is quoted as 2,400 lbs and towing capacity is said to be 7,000 lbs. The X-Class will be available in European, Australian, and South African markets in late 2017, and then in Latin American countries the following year. The company notes that “while a pickup is under consideration for the US market at some point, no timeline is available for a decision to be made.”
Nissan recently took the wraps off its Navarra EnGuard off road variant for emergency workers. That chunky workhorse packs two portable electric battery packs for use in remote areas without electrical power and serious off road capability — something the Mercedes variants will probably have to do without in the name of stylish luxury for the well to do. Their only off road exploits will happen when they pull into their driveways at night.
How this vehicle fits into the need to reduce the number of fossil fuel vehicles in the world is a question no one is asking. Mark Mercedes down as yet another major manufacturer paying lip service to the idea of electric cars while it cranks out every internal combustion powered vehicle it can produce. Perhaps when the waters start lapping at the front gates of Mercedes headquarters in Stuttgart, it will start planning in earnest for a zero emissions future. Pouring resources into the X Class is proof that Mercedes and Dieter Zetsche just don’t get it and are content to live in blissful ignorance for as long as possible.