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Mercedes confirms Renault-Nissan ute partnership

Practical pair: Nissan's new-generation Navara will lend its underpinning architecture to new segment-foray Mercedes and Renault utes.

Nissan’s new Navara to spawn Mercedes-Benz’s one-tonne dual-cab ute

8 Apr 2015

DAIMLER and Renault-Nissan have confirmed a joint venture to develop a Mercedes-Benz mid-sized dual-cab pick-up on the architecture of the Japanese car-maker's new Navara that is due to touch down in Australia within months.

Production of the one-tonne ute will start by 2020 with the Mercedes truck initially rolling down production lines beside the D23 Navara in Renault's Argentinian facility and Nissan's production line in Spain.

The new addition to the Mercedes line-up will be aimed at both private and commercial buyers around the globe, including Europe, South Africa, South America and, critically, Australia.

While the as-yet unnamed ute will share some of the Navara's technology, Mercedes will lead design of its own model to deliver “all of Mercedes-Benz' distinctive characteristics and features”.

Renault is already developing its own Navara-based one-tonne ute and, while it will have “distinctive Renault design”, both offerings are expected to be mechanically similar, sharing much of the technology from the partnership.

The French version will go into production next year at the Mexican Nissan factory in Cuernavaca, but manufacturing of the Mercedes ute is expected to come online soon after with the first examples likely to arrive in Australia from 2018.

Global production of the three separate models will total 120,000 a year with about 70,000 of those coming from Argentina, boosting productivity in the various manufacturing regions.

Daimler AG board chairman Dieter Zetsche said the Renault-Nissan Alliance had allowed Mercedes to enter a new segment with minimal costs.

“Mercedes-Benz is the fastest growing premium brand in the world,” he said.

“Entering the rapidly growing segment of midsize pickups is an important step in continuing our global growth path.

“Thanks to our well-established partnership with the Renault-Nissan Alliance, we are able to drastically reduce the time and cost to enter this key segment.”

The first versions of Mercedes' pick-up are expected to be work-horse variants appealing to tradespeople and leisure seekers, but a more hardcore on-road focused AMG version is not out of the question.

Speaking at the New York International Auto Show, Mercedes-AMG board of management chairman Tobias Moers told Australian media a high-performance AMG version was a possibility in time.

“The pick-up project would be successful but we have to wait a little bit,” he said. “We don't have an understanding for that now. We've never been in that segment and honestly we don't have any experience so we need to do some research.

“We are always aware of what we can do next so for that we have to go back.”

A European-branded one-tonne dual-cab ute will go head to head with Volkswagen's Amarok, of which more than 8000 were sold on home turf last year.

The Mercedes and Renault offerings would also potentially impinge on other more affordable brands including the venerable Toyota HiLux and Ford's Ranger.

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