German manufacturer Mercedes-Benz chose the neutral location of Stockholm to preview its first entry into the highly competitive Ute market segment.
Delivery Magazine joined Dieter Zetsche, Mercedes-Benz Chairman of the Board of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars in the Swedish capital city as the company revealed design variants of the new Ute.
The Concept X-CLASS will make Mercedes-Benz the first premium manufacturer to account for the changing customer requirements in the global segment of mid-size pickups, with a payload capacity of one tonne and seating capacity for five persons.
Due for public release in late 2017 under the name Mercedes-Benz X-Class. The key markets will be Argentina, Brazil, South Africa, Australia, and Europe. The date for launch in the Australian market will be early 2018.
Dr Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars: “With the Mercedes-Benz pickup, we will close one of the last gaps in our portfolio. Our target: we want to offer customers vehicles matching their specific needs. The X-Class will set new standards in a growing segment.”
Volker Mornhinweg, Head of Mercedes-Benz Vans told Delivery Magazine “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.
“As an added value we bring safety, comfort, agility, and expressive design – in other words, everything that distinguishes vehicles bearing the Mercedes star. We will thus appeal to new customers who have not considered owning a pickup before,” he added.
The flared front and rear wings make room for a wide track and large tyre/wheel combinations for tough off-road use. 22-inch light-alloy wheels with a contrasting anthracite chrome finish give the Concept X-CLASS stylish explorer a towering and superior stance.
The side steps are integrated into the bodywork, complimenting the extremely short front overhang and long rear overhang.
The interior features include the freestanding high-resolution central display as well as the central controller and multifunctional touchpad. Similar to a smartphone, all telematics functions can be controlled with the touchpad by using gestures or by entering letters and characters. Mercedes-Benz thus introduces the most modern control and display concept in the segment of mid-size pickups.
The Concept X-CLASS is the hero vehicle, displaying large 35×11.50 tyres, high ground clearance and a height of 1.9 metres. An electric winch at the front and a metal hook at the rear are further indications of the toughness and power of the future pickup.
As testimony to the Mercedes-Benz modular approach to its car range, a host of interior components that feature in the C-Class and V-Class.
The X-Class will also set new standards in the segment with regard to connected life. Thanks to the communication module with on-board SIM card, it will be possible to use 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 top-of-the-line model will be powered by a V6 diesel in combination with 4MATIC permanent all-wheel-drive. 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.
The drive system and ladder-type frame combines to provide a payload of more than 1.1 tonnes and a towing capacity of up to 3.5 tonnes. At the same time, the wide-axle suspension design using 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.
Like all Mercedes vehicles, the pickup will be distinguished by exemplary safety.
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.
Mid-size pickups currently have the largest share of the total vehicle market in Australia with 14.1 percent, with Argentina second with 11.6 percent. This means that in these countries, one out of every eight registered vehicles is a Ute in the one-tonne category. In Brazil, mid-size pickups have a share of almost five percent of the total vehicle market. That figure is 0.5 percent in Germany,
1.3 percent in Great Britain, 1.4 percent in Turkey, and 0.8 percent in Russia.
The Mercedes-Benz X-Class will be manufactured in 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.
This affords Mercedes-Benz fast and cost-efficient entrance to the fast-growing segment of mid-size pickups. In addition, both companies benefit from optimal utilisation of the production capacity. Nissan is the second-largest manufacturer of mid-size pickups with a payload of one tonne in the world, and can look back on more than 80 years of experience in producing and marketing these types of vehicles.