In hindsight, the only way Mercedes-Benz would know for sure if a pick-up from a premium manufacturer would be the success they were hoping for was for the German company to take the plunge themselves. A year and a bit later and that experiment has yielded a conclusion, albeit one they aren’t so enthused about.
Even to a ute-crazed market like Australia, the X-Class hasn’t been a great success, selling only in modest numbers and barely denting the dominance, both by profit and volume, held by the Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger. Meanwhile, higher end offerings such as the Volkswagen Amarok continue to plug along.
Top brass at Mercedes-Benz’s parent company Daimler are beginning to seriously question the truck’s future especially with European customers pretty much ignoring it in favour of more established offerings.
In a field of intense competition, the X-Class has more or less been unsuccessful in convincing the existing base of its advantages and could not rely on the strength of its brand to lure in new buyers. Approximately 16,700 units were sold over the combined markets of Australasia, Europe, and South Africa in 2018, far below expectations set by the automaker.
According to Automotive News Europe, the X-Class will be one of the first victims of Daimler’s cost cutting as the group adjusts its profit forecasts in light of the impact new emissions regulations and recalls will have on its bottom line.
In Australia, like most other markets, there was speculation prior to its launch whether a 'premium' pick-up was viable. Daimler leveraged its ties with the Renault-Nissan Alliance and developed the X-Class from the existing Navara, sharing its platform, powertrain, and much of the interior fixtures. They were even built at the same factory.
At its Australian launch in 2018, the X-Class would be powered exclusively by the a 2.3-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel engine shared by the Nissan and Renault Alaskan. It was only months later that the much-awaited 3.0-litre V6 turbodiesel was added to the arsenal.
Despite claims to the contrary, there were complaints that the X-Class did not project the build quality and design deserving of a Mercedes-Benz badge. The report also outlines the numerous recalls that have been published for the X-Class, impacting sales even further and calling its overall quality and value proposition into question.