JOHANNESBURG -- Mercedes-Benz, reeling from a massive recall over concerns about diesel emissions, is stretching its refined image with its first ever pickup truck, betting that upscale car buyers are ready for an open-bed hauler with leather seats, oak trim and Autobahn handling.
The X-class, priced from 37,300 euros ($43,200) in Germany, will hit dealerships in the brand’s home country starting in November and will then be rolled out to South Africa, Australia and New Zealand in 2018 and Latin America the following year.
The model will be available initially with two diesel options as well as a gasoline engine. The top-of-the-line V6 diesel will be available from mid-2018.
Mercedes is targeting the mid-sized pickup at wealthy clients who like quad biking and sailing. Taking on a new segment far removed from opulent models like the S-class sedan shows how far the world’s biggest maker of luxury vehicles is prepared to go to capture new sales. For now, it plans to stay clear of the U.S.’s competitive truck market, dominated by utilitarian vehicles like the Ford F-150. The X-class gives Mercedes an offering that rivals BMW and Audi will unlikely match any time soon.