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Why Mercedes chose Navara as X-Class base

X-men: Mercedes-Benz has released pricing for its hotly-anticipated X-Class ute, which will retail for between $45,450 and $64,500 for four-cylinder variants.

Daimler says Nissan ute’s strong working history made donor choice easy for X-Class

Mercedes-Benz logo25 Oct 2017

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS in CHILE

SPEED, trust, expediency and more than a little Nissan know-how were the core reasons why Daimler AG decided to team up with the Japanese manufacturer for the D23 Navara-based X-Class pick-up.

According to Mercedes-Benz head of global communications (commercial vehicles) Florian Martens, there was no other vehicle manufacturer in the mix when the German company decided to enter the global one-tonne utility segment around four years ago, particularly as Daimler did not want to waste any time putting their brand on a suitable vehicle.

Mr Martens also revealed that Daimler management was aware that Renault was also planning what could end up being one of the biggest rivals to the resulting X-Class in the form of the very closely related Alaskan pick-up.

“We have a long-standing strategic alliance with Renault and Nissan for many years,” Mr Martens told GoAuto at the international launch of the X-Class in Chile last week. “And there are several projects within that alliance. We know each other well, there’s trust on both sides, and there is a partner with Nissan that has a lot of experience in the pick-up market.

“So, it’s a no-brainer, it’s a given, that if you are looking at the segment like the pick-up, you are interested in entering it very fast, and you have somebody that you’ve been working with already that is already in that segment, then that is your natural first point of contact to talk about working together.

“If you don’t want to start from scratch developing your own product, then you look within the strategic partnership you have … and Nissan know pick-ups, they’ve been doing it for a very long time. If you do it on your own and want to do it fast, you lose a lot of time, you lose a lot of money.

“The co-operation is very open and transparent, and of course we also partner with Renault on the passenger-car side, so there is transparency and that’s fine. It’s not like we had to read about (the Alaskan) in the paper, you know.”

The X-Class will launch in Australia in April, while Renault is still to confirm its timetable for Australian release of the Alaskan, which is likely to arrive late next year or early in 2019.

Renault has already said that it will pitch its pick-up as a recreational and towing vehicle against the Volkswagen Amarok and higher-end Ford Ranger models, rather than as an out-and-out tradie vehicle, to differentiate its positioning from the Navara in Australia.

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