FRANKFURT -- Mercedes-Benz is killing off its X-class pickup, a model that was supposed to expand the global reach of its commercial vehicles division and reduce the unit's dependence on the Sprinter large van.
The X class was launched in 2017 as a rival to vehicles such as the Volkswagen Amarok, Ford Ranger and Toyota Hilux with aspirations to carve a chunk out of a midsize pickup segment forecast to grow to 3.2 million units in the next 10 years.
But buyers were not ready to pay premium prices for a Mercedes-badged vehicle that was based on the Nissan Navara as part of Mercedes' parent Daimler's industrial cooperation with Renault-Nissan.
Global sales of the X class in 2018, its first full year on the market, were just 16,700 in Europe, Australia and South Africa. About 10,000 were sold in the first nine months of last year, according to Mercedes. The U.S., where demand is mainly for full-size pickups, was ruled out as a market.
Mercedes' light commercial vehicles unit said it would end production of the midsize pickup at its plant in in Barcelona, Spain, by June. "It has been decided that from the end of May 2020, we will no longer produce this relatively young model," Mercedes said in a statement sent to Automotive News Europe.
A spokesperson for Mercedes-Benz Vans said customers could still order an X class to their specific configuration until Feb. 11.
The X class was intended to be a core pillar of a global growth strategy for Mercedes-Benz Vans. It was targeted at a diverse customer group from farmers in South America, building contractors in Australia, families in Brazil, and trend-conscious individuals in Europe and South Africa.
Mercedes gave the X class more complex and expensive features typically found in passenger cars compared with its platform siblings the Navara and the Renault Alaskan.
The future of the X class was put into question last year when Mercedes dropped plans to build the vehicle in Argentina as well as in Barcelona.
Customer clinics showed buyers in the South America market were unwilling to pay the premium prices needed to justify local production. That left just Australia and South Africa as its main source of demand.
After its launch, market researchers JATO Dynamics had said the X class would be hard to sell in Europe where customers consider pickups to be work vehicles and prefer smaller cars.
Volkswagen's Amarok faces similar challenges to the X class. VW will base the Amarok's successor on the Ford Ranger to save development costs for such a low-volume model.