Cannon noted that the midsize pickup, a joint effort between parent company Daimler AG and Nissan, is being developed for other parts of the world. A decision for the U.S. would come before design freeze, Cannon said. That would allow U.S. product planners to have some influence on the pickup if U.S. sales get the green light.
The main question for Cannon is whether Mercedes can add value to the segment. The pickup would have to be pitched as a lifestyle vehicle, not a work truck.
Tradespeople "probably don't want a Mercedes-Benz on the front because they'd be worried about the statement that's making to their clients," he said. But plenty of Mercedes customers also have a pickup in their garage because they like the trucks' image and flexibility. And offering a pickup would expand Mercedes' portfolio.
"For us, it's about finding where people want to migrate and making sure we've got products that meet that need," Cannon said.
Still, the midsize pickup segment has shrunk dramatically since the early 2000s, Cannon said. While new entries from General Motors are increasing the segment's volume and the truck under consideration by Ford would provide another boost, he said, it's off a much lower base of sales than for larger pickups.
Cannon noted that no one in the company is saying Mercedes-Benz USA has to take the pickup.
"You don't come into a market that's highly established to just be an also-ran and just put the badge on the front," he said. "So if we cannot bring the Mercedes-Benz attributes to the segment, then we won't."