Believe it or not, not too long ago luxury SUVs were few and far between. Today, however, luxury SUVs have gone from being a rarity to being available in a range of options — for example, if you’re in the market for a Mercedes-Benz SUV, you can choose from the GLA, the GLC, the GLE, the GL (rechristened the GLS), or the G-Wagen. Suffice it to say, luxury SUV’s are now a normal sight.
More pointedly, this change was the result of SUVs themselves evolving from being thought of as sporty, off-road vehicles into sophisticated status symbols. But, could this same thing happen to pickup trucks? Mercedes-Benz believes yes. So let’s take a look at Mercedes’s upcoming pickup truck, and why the company believes it could be the start of a luxury pickup truck trend.
Because Mercedes’s new pickup is still a few years out (its rumored production start date is sometime in 2018), specs for the new pickup truck are hard to nail down. Luckily, there are quite a few “educated rumors” floating about: TopSpeed, for example, believes that the new pickup will have a starting price of around $30,000, and that it’ll have an inline-four engine that’ll produce 208 horsepower. Car and Driver believes that the mystery pickup will be available with either a four or six-cylinder engine, and that it’ll be available as an automatic or a manual, and have 4MATIC all-wheel drive.
What we know for certain, however, is that it — the not-officially-named “GLT” — will be a 1-ton, double cab, and it’ll be the product of a partnership between Renault-Nissan and Daimler (Mercedes-Benz’s parent company). Furthermore, because of this partnership, the GLT will share some of the same architecture as Nissan’s all-new NP300, according to Daimler.
However, the GLT won’t simply be a rebranded version of the NP300, as Daimler specifies in its press release that the GLT will be engineered and designed by Daimler, and that it’ll have all the characteristics and features that people associate with Mercedes-Benz’s passenger vehicles. “We can perfectly serve customers looking for a vehicle that offers a high level of utility and at the same time has the comfort, safety, and design of a Mercedes-Benz passenger car,” Voker Mornhinweg, head of Mercedes-Benz Vans, stated regarding the GLT.
Further, the GLT will target both personal use and commercial customers, and it’ll be available for sale in Latin America, Europe, South Africa, and Australia (yes, North America is not on this list). More importantly, Mercedes hopes that the GLT will help expand the Mercedes brand and help contribute to its global growth targets.
Of course, the real question behind Mercedes-Benz’s latest venture is “Why a pickup truck?” And the answer is fairly straightforward. In the 1990s, Mercedes-Benz launched its first crossover luxury SUV, the M-Class, and it was one of the first luxury manufactures to enter this vehicle segment. More importantly, the M-Class (which is now the GLE) became a massive success for the company.
Now, Mercedes-Benz believes there’s a similar trend happening with pickup trucks; the market is shifting, and customers are looking for pickup trucks that offer more luxury and comfort. As Mornhinweg states, “Years ago, SUVs used to be, well, rough, … Then they became prettier. Now, we see the same trend in pickup trucks. We see opportunities to enter this market as the first premium brand.” In other words, Mercedes-Benz believes that there’s a demand for luxury pickup trucks, and similar to what happened to SUVs, this trend could be the next big thing for luxury vehicles.
Of course, the operative words in the above sentence are “could be.” Right now it’s too early to tell what will happen with Mercedes-Benz’s upcoming pickup truck. It could be a smashing success, and a true game-changer when it comes to pickup trucks, or it could fail miserably. Regardless of the final outcome, a Mercedes-Benz pickup truck is definitely intriguing.
Like classics? It’s always Throwback Thursday somewhere.