The X-Class is among the worst selling trucks in Europe

Its been only two years since Mercedes-Benz launched its first-ever production pickup truck, the X-Class, and the German firm is reportedly looking to axe the nameplate due to slow sales and a shift in strategy. According to a new report, Mercedes wants to reduce costs and optimize profits, and the X-Class is on a list of vehicles that will be dropped from the lineup soon.

The Mercedes-Benz X-Class is a slow seller

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In 2017, the X-Class' first full year on the market, Mercedes-Benz sold only 16,700 trucks globally

The company’s first pickup truck, the X-Class was introduced in 2017 in Mercedes’ attempt to diversify its light commercial vehicles division. With the midsize pickup truck market in full bloom, the Germans wanted a piece of the action in a segment they haven’t explored before. In theory, the strategy made a lot of sense and a premium truck seemed perfect in this environment. But things didn’t go as planned.

In 2017, the X-Class’ first full year on the market, Mercedes-Benz sold only 16,700 trucks in Europe, Australia, and South Africa combined. That’s only a small fraction of Ford Ranger sales in Europe in 2018, which came in at 50,900 units. In all, Mercedes-Benz captured only 4.5 percent of European pickup truck sales in 2018, below the Nissan Navara, the truck that the X-Class is based on. The Navara scored 16 percent. Mercedes also sold fewer examples than the Toyota Hilux, Mitsubishi L200, Volkswagen Amarok, and Isuzu D-Max. Only two trucks ended the year below the X-Class, the Fiat Fullback (3.3 percent) and the Renault Alaskan (1.5 percent).

The Mercedes-Benz X-Class is way too expensive

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The X-Class is actually as expensive as Ford's and Volkswagen's bigger vans

One of the reasons for which the X-Class didn’t make it in this niche is its high sticker. The truck is priced from €37,294 in Germany, far more than the Ford Ranger and Volkswagen Amarok. The X-Class is actually as expensive as Ford’s and Volkswagen’s bigger vans. The V-6 model is even more expensive, coming in at €48,790. To get a better idea, the starting price of the X-Class converts to almost $42,000 at current exchange rates, while the V-6 truck comes in at almost $55,000. That’s as much as a Ford F-150 in Platinum trim, a full-size truck.

Sure, the X-Class is a premium truck that comes with better materials than the majority of rugged pickups in this segment, but it’s still a re-bodied Nissan at the end of the day. And maybe the European market isn’t yet ready for a premium truck.

The Mercedes-Benz X-Class had too many recalls

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Another issue that might have affected sales are the several recalls that Mercedes had to handle since the truck’s introduction. The issue in which a footwell light can come loose and jam under the brake pedal, thus reducing the truck’s capacity to slow down or come to a stop, likely had a negative impact on global sales.

The Mercedes-Benz X-Class is a fancier Nissan Navara

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Mercedes re-bodied the Nissan F-Alpha platform to look like a proper Merc, but underneath it's still a Nissan

The hard truth is that Mercedes-Benz didn’t bother to design a midsize pickup truck of its own. The German firm took advantage of its cooperation with the Renault-Nissan Alliance and built the X-Class on the same platform as the Nissan Navara, sold as the Frontier in the U.S. (and later used for the Renault Alaskan as well). Mercedes re-bodied the Nissan F-Alpha platform to look like a proper Merc, but underneath it’s still a Nissan, down to the four-cylinder gas and diesel engines, except for the larger 3.0-liter V-6.

The X-Class has a nicer interior than the Navara, and even when compared to other trucks in this niche, but it’s not as fancy as Mercedes wants us to believe. The base model still has a plasticky interior and looks too mundane for a vehicle this expensive. Maybe Mercedes enthusiasts wanted a full-fledged truck based on one of the company’s platforms instead of a re-bodied Nissan.

Daimler is reducing costs and reevaluating priorities

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Mercedes’ parent company, Daimler, seeks to reduce costs following multiple cuts to its profit forecasts over the last months. It happened most recently earlier this month, when Daimler cut its forecast for the fourth time in 13 months. The cuts were made as the group set aside more money to cover diesel emissions and Takata recalls expenses. As a result, Mercedes-Benz is forced to axe some vehicles that aren’t making profit. The list might be longer, but for the time being it seems that the X-Class will be the first to go. This move could also explain why Daimler abandoned plans to built the X-Class for South American markets at a Renault-Nissan plant in Argentina back in February 2019.

Further reading

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Read our full review on the 2020 Mercedes-Benz X-Class.

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