Mercedes-Benz is developing a new midsize pickup truck, and the company hasn’t completely ruled out selling it in the U.S. While previous reports suggested sales would be limited to other markets including Latin America, Mercedes apparently hasn’t made a final decision.
It’s not in any rush to make that decision, either. The company will decide “whenever,” Mercedes-Benz USA CEO Dieter Exler told Automotive News (subscription required) in a recent interview. Exler said the company prefers to “get it right” than commit to a timetable right now. So even if Mercedes does choose to import the truck, there’s no telling when it will arrive.
Exler’s predecessor, Steve Cannon, previously said a decision would be made in 2015, then revised that statement to mid-2016. In January, Mercedes global sales boss Ola Kallenius said a decision would be made this year. However, Exler said those statements only referred to plans to have a U.S.-spec model ready in time for the truck’s global launch. Mercedes could begin selling the truck in other markets, and bring it to the U.S. at a later date.
Mercedes is reportedly talking to U.S. dealers about the truck, and has already received a resounding “no” from its largest dealer. In January Mike Jackson, CEO of the massive AutoNation dealership chain, said Mercedes shouldn’t bother importing the truck because it would have a hard time competing with models from domestic brands.
It’s worth noting that the Mercedes will be a midsize model, competing in a much smaller segment than the full-size arena dominated by Ford, General Motors, and Fiat Chrysler. Only GM currently sells midsize trucks, in the form of the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon twins. Other rivals would include the Toyota Tacoma and Honda Ridgeline. Mercedes is partnering with Nissan on development, so its truck could be a cousin to the next-generation version of the Japanese firm’s Frontier.
If the truck makes it to the U.S., it will be interesting to see if Mercedes markets it as a work vehicle, like the current Metris midsize van, or a luxury vehicle. Luxury trucks don’t have an especially good track record (see Lincoln’s Blackwood and Mark LT, and Cadillac’s Escalade EXT), although trucks from mainstream brands can be lavishly equipped today.