Mercedes-Benz Vans unveiled two design variants of the Concept X-CLASS, previewing the coming X-Class pickup, in Stockholm. The introduction of the one-ton pickup with seating for up to 5 people will make Mercedes-Benz the first premium manufacturer to account for the changing customer requirements in the global segment of mid-size pickups.
With the pickup, Mercedes-Benz Vans will also expand its product range with a fourth model series. Daimler AG will make investments in the high nine figures (euro) in the new model series by the time of the market launch. The pickup will be launched in late 2017 in Europe under the name Mercedes-Benz X-Class. The key markets will be Argentina, Brazil, South Africa, Australia with New Zealand, and Europe.
|Mercedes-Benz Concept X-CLASS stylish explorer (right) and Mercedes-Benz Concept X-CLASS powerful adventurer (left). Click to enlarge.|
We will open up and change the segment of mid-size pickups with the world’s first true premium pickup for the modern urban lifestyle. Our future X-Class will be a pickup that knows no compromise. Ladder-type frame, high-torque six-cylinder engine, and permanent all-wheel drive are compulsory for us.—Volker Mornhinweg, Head of Mercedes-Benz Vans
Worldwide, mid-size pickups are becoming increasingly popular as versatile vehicles for a simultaneous private and commercial use and as vehicles for a strictly private use. The percentage of privately used pickups has been growing steadily for years.
The double cab has emerged as the dominating body style because it offers room for up to five persons. Mercedes-Benz noted that a similar development took place in the off-road vehicle segment some 20 years ago. Back then, Mercedes-Benz was the first premium manufacturer to launch a sport utility vehicle (SUV), the M-Class, and completely redefined the off-road segment.
The top-of-the-line model will be powered by a V6 diesel in combination with 4MATIC permanent all-wheel drive. The high-torque engine will provide high driving dynamics on the road and off the road. The all-wheel-drive system will combine an electronic traction system, a transfer case with reduction gear, and two differential locks.
The traction system and the electrically operated on-demand differential locks channel the power to where traction is best. Under extreme off-road conditions, the rear differential and the inter-axle differential can be locked to handle difficult obstacles and inclines.
The drive system and the tough ladder-type frame will make a payload of more than 1.1 ton and a towing capacity of up to 3.5 tons possible. At the same time, the specially constructed suspension with wide axles, a five-link rear axle with coil springs, and a precisely calibrated spring/damper set-up will ensure a high ride comfort on the road and off the road.
Modern driver assistance systems based on cameras, radar and ultrasound sensors will support and relieve the driver in many situations, and in so doing equally enhance safety and comfort. A host of assistance systems will already come as standard.
Mercedes said that the X-Class will also set new standards in the segment with regard to connected life. The communication module with on-board SIM card will enable the use of the extensive Mercedes me connect services. Drivers can connect with their pickup by smartphone, tablet or PC at any time and from anywhere. For example, to send navigation destinations to the vehicle or query where the pickup is parked and how much fuel is in the tank. In addition to these optional remote online services, standard services such as accident recovery, maintenance management and breakdown management will also be available.
The pickup will be manufactured in a production cooperation with the Renault-Nissan Alliance. Production for the European, Australian and South African markets will start at the Nissan plant in Barcelona, Spain, in 2017. The X-Class for the Latin American market will roll off the assembly lines at the Renault plant in Cordoba, Argentina, starting in 2018. With the X-Class, Daimler AG and the Renault-Nissan Alliance expand their strategic cooperation which began six years ago.Focus on five customer groups. The X-Class will combine the strengths of a pickup with the value appeal, comfort, driving fun, and safety of a Mercedes. The brand expects that the new X-Class will appeal not only to pickup owners wishing for more car-like characteristics, performance, safety, and comfort, but also and above all to people who drive a passenger car, SUV or van. Extensive market research studies conducted by Mercedes-Benz with potential customers in the target markets bear this out.
Mid-size pickups currently have the largest share of the total vehicle market in Australia with 14.1%. Argentina comes close behind with 11.6%. In Brazil, mid-size pickups have a share of almost 5% of the total vehicle market. That figure is 0.5% in Germany, 1.3% in Great Britain, 1.4% in Turkey, and 0.8% in Russia.
Based on its market research studies, Mercedes-Benz has identified five customer groups for the X-Class, which are of different relevance in the individual countries.
One important target group is constituted by families with an active lifestyle and an affinity to premium products. They use the pickup mostly for commuting to work, for shopping, taking the kids to school or sports activities, for weekend trips, and vacation. The key markets are Brazil, Argentina, Australia, and South Africa.
Another target group for the X-Class are successful adventurers, who live in an urban environment and participate in outdoor sports such as skiing or riding jet skis, or have their own boat. They need a comfortable premium vehicle for everyday use that at the same time offers sufficient cargo space and towing capacity for their recreational equipment. The top markets are Australia, South Africa, Brazil, Great Britain, and Germany.
In addition, the Mercedes-Benz pickup will have the potential to inspire trend-conscious individualists with an affinity to premium products. They lead an independent lifestyle and want a vehicle outside the mainstream that underscores their personality and status with a unique design. Independent individualists use the pickup as an “everyday vehicle” in the city, for evening and weekend activities, and for sporting events. The key markets for this target group are Germany, Great Britain, South Africa, and Brazil.
The fourth customer group comprises business owners such as building contractors, architects, and service providers who want to use their pickup for commercial and private purposes: that is as a comfortable company car for customer meetings, which is equally perfect for transporting customers and employees as well as tools and building materials, as an “everyday vehicle”, and as a vehicle for weekend activities. Significant markets for business owners are Germany, Great Britain, Australia, and Argentina.
Landowners, such as cattle ranchers in Argentina, soy bean farmers in Brazil or vintners in South Africa, also use their pickup for commercial and private purposes. They need a vehicle that on the one hand takes them through unpaved terrain and has sufficient cargo and towing capacity. On the other hand, it must be suitable for driving to customer and supplier meetings as well as for use as an “everyday vehicle” for the family.