The Real Reason The Mercedes-Benz X-Class Pickup Truck Failed Miserably

Mercedes-Benz has been one of the premium carmakers at the forefront of technology. Because of its deep pockets, talented designers and ingenious engineers, the German luxury carmaker is able to deliver what the wealthy demands. Thanks to its overwhelming resources, Mercedes seems to have the knack for building any luxurious cars - from A-Class to S-Class, as well as from hatchbacks to sporty premium coupes.

There is, however, a vehicle type that Mercedes currently doesn't have in its premium lineup - a luxury pickup truck.


Interestingly, Mercedes did offer a mid-size pickup truck in the past decade. In line with its naming sense, Mercedes dubbed its new product as the X-Class, which it said was the world's first true "premium" pick-up truck. It offers modern design, impressive off-road capabilities and safety, as well as sophisticated functionality and stylish comfort.

Nevertheless, the X-Class was a failure. Despite all the efforts from Mercedes to sell the X-Class to international markets, the pickup truck didn't attract as many premium customers as the German luxury carmaker had hoped. While it may seem unthinkable for the X-Class to become a miserable failure, but somehow, its demise had deeper roots.

X-Class: Mercedes' First True Premium Pickup Truck

The X-Class wasn't Mercedes first attempt at utalitarian pickup trucks.

Before the X-Class, there were the Mercedes G 63 AMG 6x6 as well as the Unimog. But these trucks were low-volume pickups targeted towards certain clients and military use. Given that, the X-Class was essentially the first time that Mercedes built a pickup truck for the mass market; there was a lot of potential in offering such a vehicle.

For instance, American carmakers such as General Motors, Ford and Stellantis have been offering pickup trucks in upscale trims. More and more people don't view pickup trucks as mere workhorses anymore; they also view them as vehicles offering comfortable luxury vehicles. With an apparent demand for upscale pickup trucks, there was definitely a market for the X-Class.

Mercedes tried to gauge the market for the X-Class by unveiling a concept in 2016 - the Concept X-Class. Seeing that there was enough interest for its new pickup truck, the German premium carmaker proceeded to develop the production version, which it would launch in Europe in 2017. Mercedes launched the X-Class in other markets such as South Africa, Australia and New Zealand in 2018.

It then launched the pickup truck in Argentina and Brazil in 2018. Interestingly, the X-Class didn't arrive in the United States, which is the most pickup truck-hungry market in the world. RELATED: Carlex Design Reveals Monstrous Mercedes-Benz X-Class Carbon 6x6

A Nissan Navara With A Mercedes Body

brown 2015 Nissan Navara road Via: Nissan

The primary reason why the X-Class failed miserably is the fact that Mercedes based the pickup up on the Nissan NP300 Navara.

Mercedes was building the X-Class on a Renault-Nissan platform. Aside from sharing the chassis of the Navara, the X-Class also borrowed its suspension system, diesel engine, manual and automatic transmissions, and more. Nevertheless, Mercedes had to re-engineer most of the underpinnings and parts of the Navara - essentially a high-volume vehicle -- to ensure that it suits the luxury label.

On the surface, though, the X-Class is definitely a Mercedes, thanks to the massive Mercedes star sitting on the front grille. Knowing these details, many customers saw the X-Class as merely a Navara with a Mercedes body and a posh, luxurious interior. When Mercedes first teased the X-Class, customers were expecting a completely new pickup truck.

But reality betrayed expectations, like when Toyota fans learned the Supra was a BMW underneath. RELATED: Mercedes-Benz Considering Adding V8 Power To X-Class Pickup

Negative Perception Over Ordinary Build And Premium Price

silver Mercedes-Benz X-Class road quarter front Via: Mercedes-Benz

Thus, the customer perception for the Mercedes X-Class quickly turned from positive to negative in a matter of months. Customers realized they won't be getting a real Mercedes.

Instead, they were getting a Nissan mass-market pickup truck with a Mercedes-esque name and body. Moreover, customers came to see that an X-Class was too pricey -- the build failed to justify the luxurious tag. When Mercedes first opened the order book, the X-Class already had a starting price of £43,000.

Still, there are thousands of customers who were willing to part with their money for a Navara-based Mercedes pickup truck. In its full year of sales (2018), Mercedes delivered around 16,700 units of the X-Class - this wasn't the figure Mercedes was expecting. Mercedes eventually killed the X-Class in mid-2020 due to lack of demand.

RELATED: Mercedes-Benz Drops Nissan Sourced X-Class Pickup

Mercedes Didn't Sell The X-Class In the US

red Mercedes-Benz X-Class side view road Via: Mercedes-Benz

Another possible a reason (but didn't bear a huge bearing) for the miserable failure of the X-Class is the fact that Mercedes chose to forego one of the biggest market for pickup trucks - the US. It chose to target varying customer groups in different areas in the world. Mercedes was actually trying to cater to growing global demand for mid-size trucks.

For instance, Mercedes was aiming the X-Class at land-owners and farmers in Argentina, business owners in Australia, premium-product-loving families love in Brazil, trend-conscious individuals in South Africa and the UK, as well as adventurers in New Zealand. Mercedes gave no reason for not selling the X-Class in the US. However, the reason may have to do with the facts that Americans love full-size pickups, and the X-Class is a compact truck.

Being a European model, the Nissan NP300 Navara in the US.

Source: Mercedes-Benz