It might seem like an odd decision to all those snooty S-Class drivers in Connecticut, but Mercedes-Benz is going full-steam ahead with their plans to build a pickup truck. And the motoring world might catch its first look at the bedded Benz as soon as the 2016 Paris Motor Show, in October. That's the news from Auto Express, whose sources tell them a concept version of the Mercedes pickup will burst into view sometime "near the end of the year."
Don't expect the Mercedes pickup to be replacing F-250 Super Duty Platinums for Texas ranch duty, though. "We are not going to build a fat cowboy truck for America," Mercedes-Benz van division chief and former AMG boss Volker Mornhinweg told CAR. The Big Three, he reasons, already have that market pretty much locked down. Nissan and Toyota's struggles to break off significant market share over the last decade offer solid proof of that. Instead, Mercedes's truck will play one league below, competing with the likes of the Colorado, the Tacoma/Hilux, and the VW Amarok.
The truck—which will either be called the GLT-Class or the X-Class, according to different reports—will be jointly developed with Nissan. Whatever the name, the rig will be based on the same chassis as Nissan's next-gen Navara pickup, which may be America's next Nissan Frontier. The only body style on offer will be a crew cab, which Morningweg declared will offer "best-in-class passenger space" in the second row. All-wheel-drive, an automatic transmission, and independent rear suspension will reportedly be optional, though we Americans will probably be saddled with both as standard equipment.
Mercedes-Benz has already released a concept image of the pickup (see above) that features styling clearly inspired by the brand's SUV face as seen on the GLC-, GLE- and GLS-Class rigs. It also reminds us a fair bit of the Honda Ridgeline, a truck that seems like the upcoming Merc's obvious competitor in the United States.
The big question for the American market is how Mercedes-Benz will market the truck here. Will they position it as a utility/commercial vehicle alongside the Metris and Sprinter? Or will it be parked between the E43 and the C-Class convertible in a glassy showroom that smells like leather and burled walnut? Mercedes-Benz USA CEO Steve Cannon suggested last year that the latter would be more likely, but much can change in a year. Either way, Daimler is reportedly very interested in building the truck in Mexico, which would exempt it from the "chicken tax"—assuming Obama's Trans-Pacific Partnership can't eradicate that tariff.
According to Auto Express, Mornhinweg also says he wants to see the truck on sale by the end of 2017, so news about it should start flowing more quickly over the next year and a half. Anybody want to take bets on how long it'll be until we see the inevitable, Raptor-baiting AMG pickup?