Merc acts to fix glaring omission
One-tonne pick-ups and utes have been key money-spinners at every Japanese car company for decades. When the giant VW group entered the fray with its Amarok in 2005, the writing was on the wall for one of its biggest group competitors.
Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz brand has a wide range of light commercial vehicles sold into nearly every one of its global markets but the ute angle has been a glaring omission.
As previously reported in WestWHEELS, that’s about to change and the move will signal a new stream of revenue from its world-wide commercial vehicle dealer network.
The announcement followed the pattern established by VW, which announced the Amarok plan in 2005 and released the vehicle five years later in 2010.
However, it’ll no doubt be a while before any of the locals turn up at the ute muster in a Merc, sporting 2m CB aerials, full-width mud flaps, chrome door handles and enough lights to spot every kangaroo in the Wheatbelt.
But the clock is ticking.
A Mercedes-Benz sketch depicting how the ute may look. Picture: mercedes-benz.com.au
As the company has specifically stated, the new vehicle will be aimed at the mid-size commercial markets in Latin America, South Africa, Australia, and Europe, it’s clear the ute won’t be based on any of the Dodge “trucks” in the US when it appears before the end of the decade.
It also suggested it would be the first pick-up from a premium manufacturer, a putdown that will no doubt be received well by its competitors.
Daimler AG chairman of the board Dieter Zetsche said the brand would enter the segment with “our distinctive brand identity and all of the vehicle attributes that are typical of the brand with regard to safety, comfort, powertrains, and value”.
Another executive who runs the Vans division stated the Mercedes-Benz pickup “will contribute nicely to our global growth targets”. In reality, that means the group is pretty cheesed it has missed sales opportunities in such a vast global area of demand, and we can expect Benz to throw all of its considerable technological talent at making the ute a market leader in short order.
What the market analysts have finally recognised is the mid-size pick-up segment is continually gathering pace worldwide.
More and more pickups are being used for private purposes and both commercial and private users are demanding car-like specifications. Mercedes-Benz is looking to the same shift that occurred with its M-Class around 20 years ago when, as the first luxury SUV, it redefined the segment.
Sustained growth in the markets the new ute is aimed at has determined the general direction for product planning, meaning it will compete with the Asian pick-ups.
One thing’s sure: it won’t look like it’s been driven out of a Nato military park and given a quick coat of paint. And don’t expect it to be a ticket for entry into the hallowed halls of a Mercedes car showroom — it’ll be sold alongside the vans.
For the original announcement visit mercedes-benz.com.au/content/australia
© The West Australian
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