ATLANTA -- Mercedes-Benz USA's new CEO says no timetable exists for deciding whether to bring a new midsize pickup under development to the U.S.
"It's whenever," Dietmar Exler told Automotive News. "I don't think we do ourselves a favor to come up with a defined timetable. It's more important that we get it right."
Exler's predecessor, Steve Cannon, who announced his departure from the company in December, had once said the pickup decision would be made in 2015. He later revised that to mid-2016. In January, Mercedes-Benz global sales chief Ola Kaellenius said the decision would be made this year.
Exler explained those previous timetable pronouncements referred to when a decision would have to be made in order to have a U.S.-market pickup in the plan for the truck's global production launch. "If we miss the window, then we come a year later," he said. And that may be OK, Exler said, because making sure the pickup is a true Mercedes inside and out takes precedence for the U.S. market.
To make the decision, Mercedes-Benz USA is talking to a select group of dealers for feedback. It may also do a customer clinic. "We are in the middle of the process right now," he said.
The brand already has the opinion of its largest U.S. dealer and former Mercedes-Benz USA head: AutoNation CEO Mike Jackson. In January, Jackson said Mercedes should skip the pickup in the U.S. because it's too much of a challenge going up against the "phenomenal" pickups already sold by Ford, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler.
The planned pickup, a joint effort between parent company Daimler AG and Nissan Motor Co., is being developed for other parts of the world. Mercedes is expected to reveal its design this fall at the Paris auto show.