X-Class to Be Axed: In-Depth Analysis

Production of the Mercedes-Benz X-Class will stop and the pickup will be withdrawn from sale by the end of the year, Professional Pickup and 4×4 has learned.

Sales of the X-Class never lived up to expectations, confirmed senior figures at the German automaker, despite global pickup truck sales rising year on year.

Globally, pickup sales have reached 6.19m in 2018, an increase of 3.2% on 2017’s figure. Launching the X-Class in 2017, it seemed Mercedes-Benz had chosen the perfect time enter the market.

However, only 16,700 units were sold in 2018, compared with 548,000 of the Toyota Hilux, 335,000 of the Isuzu D-Max and 267,000 of the Ford Ranger. Even the premium Volkswagen Amarok, the main competitor to the X-Class, outsold it at a rate of around five-to-one with sales of around 81,000.

The Mercedes-Benz X-Class has been axed

Even though X-Class sales were up in the first half of 2019 (in the UK, they were up 83% to 1,172), sources at Daimler’s headquarters in Stuttgart confirmed to Professional Pickup and 4×4 that production will stop at the Barcelona factory by the end of the year. Nobody at Mercedes-Benz UK would comment.

Earlier this year, former Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche cancelled plans to produce the X-Class in South America.

So what went led to the X-Class being axed? The most obvious answer is the price. Prices of the X350D Power, the ‘flagship’ X-Class, start at £39,510 plus VAT – over £4,000 more expensive than the top-of-the-range Amarok.

The Mercedes X-Class has been axed

What makes matters worse is the market is well-aware that the X-Class is based on, and built alongside, the Nissan Navara. The Navara’s highest trim level, the Tekna, is similarly specced to the Power and priced at £27,675 plus VAT, but is widely discounted to the low £20’s – just over half the price.

New Isuzu D-Max Pickup Delayed

Another reason is emissions. The 3.0-litre V6 engine (OM642) built by Mercedes is more popular than Renault-Nissan’s 2.3-litre, four-cylinder engine, and it remains to be seen whether it will meet the upcoming Euro 6D, or Euro 6.2, emission standard due in September 2019.

There’s also speculation the Renault-Nissan-Daimler alliance formed by Zetsche and former Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn may be in jeopardy. Despite a ‘very good working relationship,’ Zetsche retired in April and Ghosn stepped down after being arrested in Tokyo for ‘false accounting’ in November 2018.

The new Daimler CEO, Ola Kallenius, is instead looking to build a relationship with BMW and new Chinese partners, Zhejiang Geely Holding Group. The only good news for Mercedes-Benz pickup truck fans, disappointed that the X-class has been axed, is that pickups form a significant part of Geely’s business plan moving forward.