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Benz to pick-up SUV buyers with X-Class

Family hauler: Benz says the versatility of the X-Class will ensure people who would normally opt for an SUV could choose the new Spanish-built pick-up.

X-Class to lure buyers from Benz and other brand’s SUV models, as well as utes

Mercedes-Benz logo24 Jul 2017

By TIM NICHOLSON in CAPE TOWN

MERCEDES-BENZ says its forthcoming X-Class pick-up will attract Australian SUV buyers, as well as taking sales from traditional dual-cab ute rivals when it arrives in Australia early next year.

While the German car-maker has not yet revealed Australian pricing or specification, the X-Class is expected to carry a premium over the likes of the Toyota HiLux, Ford Ranger and Volkswagen Amarok.

As reported, it will be sold with a choice of three diesel powertrains, including Mercedes’ own 190kW V6 turbo-diesel unit, a mix or two- and four-wheel drive, and be offered across three distinct specification grades starting with the tradie friendly Pure, mid-spec Progressive and flagship Power.

Speaking with GoAuto at the X-Class reveal in Cape Town, South Africa last week, Mercedes-Benz Vans Australia and New Zealand managing director Diane Tarr said she expected the bulk of buyers to go for the more generously specified variants.

“We probably feel stronger demand in Progressive and the Power,” she said. “It is wonderful we will offer the full range, the three variants that cater to the customer profile and groups we have identified, and we see the strength in the Progressive and the Power.”

Ms Tarr said it was possible that there could be cannibalisation within the Benz line-up, with some buyers opting for the X-Class over a similarly priced or positioned SUV such as the GLC, GLE or even GLS, but added the pick-up would also nab sales from other brand’s SUV models.

“I would probably broaden it to SUVs more generally, not just Mercedes-Benz. It might attract alternative customers that may not have thought about a premium pick-up in that space. I think it will attract some interest from the SUV segment.

“It depends on that lifestyle customer that is really looking for a vehicle that maybe has more off-road capability but fits the lifestyle and family.”

Ms Tarr said while the company would target SUV buyers, the X-Class’s job fundamentally is to “sit and compete in that double-cab ute segment”.

The 4x2 and 4x4 dual-cab pick-up segment is led by the Toyota HiLux, which is sitting on 23,378 units to the end of June, followed by the Ford Ranger on 21,638, while the Volkswagen Amarok – the only other offering in the segment from a European brand – has racked up 4714 sales.

Mercedes-Benz Vans has refused to nominate expected sales numbers for the X-Class in Australia, but Ms Tarr said the company would target its existing fleet customers that already drive the Vito and Sprinter vans.

“We have already got products in our fleet customer ranges. It is great to be able to offer them a full complement of our product and we have been talking to a lot of them and they have been showing interest into what the X-Class is about and how it could fit into their range.”

Ms Tarr added that the X-Class would be sold in both the Mercedes-Benz Vans commercial dealerships, as well as the passenger car dealerships, “where it fits in with the location and the operation and the representation of that particular dealership”.

In terms of a dealer expansion on the back of the X-Class launch, she said “there are new van dealers because not every passenger car dealer currently has a van franchise,” adding that the X-Class offered an opportunity for further sales growth in rural areas given the nature of the model.

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