FRANKFURT -- Daimler's Mercedes-Benz brand today unveiled two concepts for its first pickup that will go on sale next year called the X class. The midsize vehicle will target families, outdoor enthusiasts and commercial customers.
Mercedes said Europe, Latin America, South Africa, and Australia will be key markets for the pickup. The brand also said it is examining whether to sell the vehicle in the U.S. market, but it pointed out that the U.S. pickup market has shrunk dramatically.
"We are keeping a close eye on the U.S. market," Volker Mornhinweg, head of Mercedes Vans, said in an emailed statement. No decision has been taken. "We are evaluating the conditions for such a move," he said.
U.S. pickup sales have risen 5.8 percent this year through September in an overall market that's barely ahead of a record 2015 pace. Most of the pickup growth has been in the mid-size segment, up 24 percent. Sales of full-size models are up 2.7 percent.
The X class will share underpinnings with the Nissan NP300/Navara and Renault Alaskan. It will be built by Nissan in Spain starting next year and by Renault in Argentina in 2018. The pickup is the latest product in an industrial alliance between Daimler and Renault-Nissan.
The X class will fill one of the last remaining gaps in Mercedes' product range, CEO Dieter Zetsche said.
The automaker believes midsize pickups are becoming increasingly attractive for private use in additional to their reputation as commercial workhorses. Double cabs that seat up to five have emerged as the dominant body style.
The X class will compete in a global market of 2 million units that Mercedes believes is set to grow by nearly 40 percent by 2025.
At an event in Stockholm, the company unveiled at two concepts previewing the production X class: the SUV-like "Stylish Explorer" and the "Powerful Adventurer" with more traditional pickup truck looks.
Mercedes-Benz Vans expects to invest close to 1 billion euros by the time the vehicle is ready for production start.
Mercedes said the X class with its high-torque six-cylinder engine and permanent all-wheel-drive will be capable of towing 3.5 tons while carrying a payload of more than 1.1 tons. It said the pickup will offer the same levels of comfort, safety, driving dynamics and design that customers expect from Mercedes cars.