FRANKFURT -- Daimler's Mercedes-Benz brand today unveiled two concepts for its first pickup that will go on sale next year called the X class. The midsize vehicle will target families, outdoor enthusiasts and commercial customers.
Mercedes said Europe, Latin America, South Africa and Australia will be key markets for the pickup. The brand also said it is examining whether to sell the vehicle in the U.S. market, but it pointed out that the U.S. pickup market has shrunk dramatically.
"We are keeping a close eye on the U.S. market," Volker Mornhinweg, head of Mercedes Vans, said in an emailed statement. No decision has been taken. "We are evaluating the conditions for such a move," he said.
The X class will share underpinnings with the Nissan NP300/Navara and Renault Alaskan. It will be built by Nissan in Spain starting next year and by Renault in Argentina in 2018. The pickup is the latest product in a six-year-old industrial alliance between Daimler and Renault-Nissan.
The X class will fill one of the last remaining gaps in Mercedes' product range, CEO Dieter Zetsche said.
The automaker believes midsize pickups are becoming increasingly attractive for private use in additional to their reputation as commercial workhorses. Double cabs that seat up to five have emerged as the dominant body style.
The X class will compete in a global market of 2 million units that Mercedes believes is set to grow by nearly 40 percent by 2025.
Australia and South America are likely to be the biggest markets for the pickup while in Europe it will be a niche product. Globally midsize pickups currently have the largest share of the total vehicle market in Australia with 14.1 percent, Mercedes said. Argentina is No. 2 with 11.6 percent. The share is nearly 5 percent in Brazil and 1.3 percent in the UK and 0.5 percent in Germany, Mercedes said.
At an event in Stockholm, the company unveiled at two concepts previewing the production X class: the SUV-like "Stylish Explorer" and the "Powerful Adventurer" with more traditional pickup truck looks.
Mercedes-Benz Vans expects to invest close to 1 billion euros by the time the vehicle is ready for production start.