Mercedes-Benz pickup will arrive by 2020

Article by Christian Andrei, on April 3, 2015

The first-ever pickup truck from Daimler's Mercedes-Benz unit will be launched by 2020. The truck will come first to the markets in Europe, Latin America, Australia, and South Africa. When interviewed by The Wall Street Journal, Volker Mornhinweg, head of Mercedes-Benz Vans, said that Mercedes has yet to decide if the pickup will be offered in the United States.

This pickup boasts a payload capacity of 1 metric ton. Mercedes-Benz's commercial van division will build this vehicle. In a statement released last Friday, Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche said that this pickup will “contribute nicely” to its worldwide growth targets.

He also said that in entering this segment, the company will keep its unique brand identity as well as all of the attributes typical of the brand related to “safety, comfort, powertrains, and value." Mercedes stated that more pickups are intended for private purposes.

It added that consumers, whether commercial or private, are more and more asking for models that feature specifications similar to those of a car. Notably, major rival Lincoln has brought two of its models to the pickup market in the U.S., which is the biggest in the world.

During its production run in 2001 to 2003, the Lincoln Blackwood was able to sell fewer than 3,500 units in the U.S. On the other hand, the Lincoln Mark LT (seen as a rival to Cadillac’s Escalade EXT sport-utility pickup) was available in the U.S. from 2005 through the 2008 model year.

This model sold 36,187 units. Lincoln’s parent, Ford, produced the Mark LT for Mexico until 2013. Launched in the U.S. in 2001, the Cadillac Escalade EXT, an upscale version of the Chevrolet Avalanche, stopped production when General Motors introduced its current-generation full-sized pickups and SUVs, which were given the codename K2XX.

From 2001 to January 2015, Cadillac sales of the Escalade EXTs reached 72,897 units in the U.S. It peaked in 2002 with deliveries of 13,494 units. German premium carmakers are feeling the pressure to enter the pickup market as they compete for volume. This means that they will have to go up against mass-market competitors.

Luxury car sales can be highly competitive. Several years ago, SUVs became very popular and the automakers raced for the top spot. Adding a pickup would make their competition even more interesting. Mercedes is currently the no. 3 premium automaker but it hopes to get ahead of Audi and BMW by the end of the decade.

Audi has rolled out the A1 subcompact hatchback while BMW has added the 2-series Active Tourer and 2-series Gran Tourer compact minivans. A few years ago, Volkswagen presented a pickup strategy similar to Daimler's when it launched the Amarok.

Volkswagen developed the commercial van business and produced the midsize pickup in Argentina for Latin America and Europe; however, it avoided the U.S. market and its punitive "chicken tax." A 25% duty is imposed on goods like light trucks imported into the U.S. as a form of reprisal for tariffs on U.S. chickens that some European countries imposed at some point. [source: Mercedes-Benz]

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