Mercedes-Benz chose the Frankfurt Motor Show 2017 to showcase its new pick-up model, the X-Class. Based on a platform shared with the Nissan Navara and Renault Alaskan, customers hoped the sharing would stop at the underpinnings but as pics from the premiere showed, it looks like there’s more to it than that. Now a BMW official joined the critic club, with a rather rare stand that doesn’t usually happen, officials from the two companies rarely criticizing each other’s work.
Speaking to Car Advice on the sidelines of the Frankfurt Motor Show, Hendrik von Kuenheim, senior vice president of the company’s Asia, Pacific and South Africa region said he checked out the car and ended up being disappointed by what he saw: “When you look now at our German competitor from Stuttgart, I think that [X-Class] product is appalling. You would have expected something more serious, this is for me… very cheap, very plastic, not very much Mercedes-like. I saw that car in Geneva [motor show] and I was very disappointed. They can do better. They build fantastic cars but this one was a disappointment.”
That’s quite a bold statement from a BMW official, especially considering that the Bavarians don’t really have an alternative to the X-Class at the moment. To be fair, some of the members of the press felt the same way, a lot of them criticizing the way the final product turned out, especially since it’s wearing the Mercedes-Benz badge on the front fascia. Nevertheless, BMW will apparently be looking into making one of these pick-up models as well in the future, because the time is right to do so.
“The fundamental question is now segments, how are the segments developing. I remember heated discussions twenty-something years ago when, [we said] ‘does an SUV fit to a BMW [brand]?’ Now we have an X1, X2, X3, 5, 6, X7 and who knows what else is coming? So the market and customer demand is changing,” added von Kuenheim. That does make sense, especially for the area he oversees, where Australia, Thailand and Malaysia are countries where utes are in high demand.
However, that’s not nearly enough to justify investing into such a niche, since Europeans don’t really care about such models while North American customers prefer larger trucks than a pick-up X5. Whether BMW will make the call and bring out a rival for the X-Class remains to be seen but at the moment, it’s rather obvious that the focus remains on electric vehicles such as the production version of the BMW i Vision Dynamics concept.