Nissan Australia managing director, and former Mercedes-Benz executive, Richard Emery says it is “flattering” that the forthcoming Mercedes ute will be based on the new NP300 Navara.
Late last month, Mercedes-Benz made the rather stunning announcement that it would develop and launch a pick-up rival to the Toyota HiLux by around 2018.
Shortly after this, it confirmed that this ute would share some of the architecture with the all-new Nissan NP300, though with its own revisions.
It will be just the latest step in a significant joint-venture agreement between the Nissan/Renault Alliance and Daimler-Benz worldwide. Other examples include shared development of the new Smart and Renault Twingo, and Infiniti using Mercedes-Benz’s MFA architecture.
Emery worked as the head of passenger vehicle sales at Mercedes-Benz Australia/Pacific until April 2014. In what may be a cheeky dig at his former company, he told us this week that “I’m flattered that they think that car’s good enough to copy”.
“We’re flattered that they’d like to copy our car — it’s a good thing when Mercedes-Benz copies your cars,” he added light-heartedly.
In addition to the Mercedes-Benz ute, Alliance partner Renault will also spin off its own version of the Navara in 2016. It echoes a similar deal between Fiat professional and Mitsubishi, in which the latter will give the former access to its Triton architecture.
Ute buyers are about to have a whole lot more choice.
The all-new Navara launches in Australia later this month — see full pricing and specifications here — and Emery says the company is confident of making a serious impact, stating that it would shoot for the Ford Ranger and thereby the number two spot in segment sales, behind the HiLux.
A few years ago, the Navara regularly occupied the podium, though in recent times it has fallen back to the middle of the pack, despite offering two versions of the nameplate — the entry D22 and pricier D40.