The head of Mercedes-Benz Vans has hit back at questions over whether the new Mercedes-Benz X-Class will be seen by customers as a rebadged version of the Nissan Navara.
Volker Mornhinweg told Australian media at the international debut of the new Mercedes-Benz X-Class pick-up that the new model is the result of an alliance between companies, something that is common in the commercial vehicle space, and insisted there’s a lot more to the German company’s offering than just a change of badges between it and its donor vehicle, the Nissan Navara.
“Worldwide – I’m talking about the globe, Earth – in the light commercial vehicle business it’s a common approach to work with partners. That’s all over the place. A lot of companies are working together quite successfully,” Mornhinweg said.
“The reason for that is because, over years, LCV makers have figured out that if we’d like to be, price-wise, attractive, we have to work in some areas together.
“We can’t achieve, in our LCV segment, the huge amount of numbers as the passenger cars can. One car can sell millions of units, and if you move millions of units, you can come to a quite attractive cost situation.
“Therefore in the LCV segment, it’s quite common. It’s a kind of spirit of this, because partnering in the passenger car segment is not [quite] that common. In the LCV business it’s quite common, it’s a kind of natural move to think about these pick-ups,” he said.
Mornhinweg insisted that the company used the benefits of the Daimler tie-in with the Renault-Nissan Alliance – including a broad spread of manufacturing bases, including one plant in Spain and another in Argentina – to make a stronger business case for a dual-cab, dual-purpose vehicle like the X-Class.
“For us, we had the target that we would like to introduce our product to market in a short-term notice. Second, it’s a global product – so you cannot only build up one facility, an investment in one plant is huge. We have to have that in different places,” he said.
“Therefore we discussed it with Nissan – they were keen, they were willing, to work together with us when we started the discussions some years ago. Especially Nissan, they have a long tradition in doing pick-ups, and we the basis [the Navara], overall, was usable for us, and so we had it done.”
When asked if buyers would be able to, or would care about, the fact the brand’s much coveted three-pointed star now has pride of place on a dual-cab ute more commonly associated as being one of the budget offerings in the segment, Mornhinweg made it clear that he thought the X-Class brought enough differentiation to the market to stand out on its own merits.
“If we had done it just as a double badge [or a re-badged product] as you kind of see in the LCV business, then maybe we would have another discussion. I fully understand that. It’s hard to say it’s a double badge,” he said, referring to the fact the X-Class brings a completely revised interior, wider track, revised suspension and a new V6 drivetrain among other changes.