By Moses Akaigwe 08072100049
In a bid to target a broader range of customers, Mercedes Benz has expanded its model series with the introduction of the X-Class pickup truck in Stockholm, Sweden, where a concrete outlook was given with two concept versions.
The concepts were designed to combine the best of both worlds. The First variant called the Powerful Adventurer illustrates that the future X-Class will possess all the strengths of a classic pickup – tough, functional, strong, and with off-road capability. The Stylish Explorer variant on the other hand, possesses a markedly expressive and dynamic appearance with select features that distinguishes Mercedes-Benz from every other automobile.
Reacting to the development, Mr. Mirko Plath, Managing Director/CEO of Weststar Associates, authorised general distributor of Mercedes Benz vehicles in Nigeria, said he was delighted that a three-pointed star light truck range that would meet the needs of the market would be coming to the country before the end of 2017.
Mercedes Benz was the first premium manufacturer to launch a sport utility vehicle (SUV), the M-Class, and completely redefined the off-road segment – with lasting success. Now the premium brand has taken another major step by pioneering the first premium pickup trucks which will be launched in late 2017 under the name Mercedes-Benz X-Class. Mercedes-Benz has identified five customer groups for the X-Class, which are of different relevance in the individual countries. The key markets include Argentina, Brazil, Africa, Australia with New Zealand, and Europe.
These target groups include families, business owners, land owners, travelers/adventurers and trend conscious individualists.
We will open up and change the segment of mid-size pickups – with the world’s first true premium pickup for the modern urban lifestyle”, says Volker Mornhinweg, Head of Mercedes-Benz Vans. “Our future X-Class will be a pickup that knows no compromise. Ladder-type frame, high-torque six-cylinder engine, and permanent all-wheel drive are compulsory for us. As an added value, we bring safety, comfort, agility, and expressive design – in other words, everything that distinguishes vehicles bearing the Mercedes star. We will thus appeal to new customers who have not considered owning a pickup before.”
The top-of-the-line model will come with a V6 diesel engine, 4MATIC all-wheel drive, 22-inch alloy wheels ready to tow up to 3.5 tons. The premium truck will also be equipped with exemplary assistance systems including camera, radar and ultrasound sensors. Customers will be able to choose from a variety of equipment scopes for the exterior and interior. High quality materials and infotainment features similar to the C-class and V-class will be readily available to create an elegant ambience inside and out.
“The Concept X-CLASS design variants interpret the hallmark brand design idiom of our SUVs in a most expressive form, and embody the dichotomy of our design philosophy: they are hot and cool”, says Gorden Wagener, Head of Design at Daimler AG. “With its progressive design the powerful adventurer expresses cool modernity and thirst for adventure, while the stylish explorer on the other hand uses pure emotion to provide a tangible experience of modern beauty.”
The market launch of the Mercedes-Benz X-Class in Europe will begin in late 2017. The pickup will be manufactured in a production cooperation with the Renault-Nissan Alliance. Production for the European, Australian and South African markets will start at the Nissan plant in Barcelona, Spain, in 2017. The X-Class for the Latin American market will roll off the assembly lines at the Renault plant in Cordoba, Argentina, starting in 2018.
“We are extremely pleased with the final unveiling of the concept trucks. The X-Class pickup trucks will be a formidable addition to our fleet. I believe they are perfect for the Nigerian market due to the broad range of needs to be met for different customers. Thus, we look forward to their arrival in 2017”, remarked Mirko Plath
With the X-Class, Daimler AG and the Renault-Nissan Alliance have expanded their strategic cooperation which began six years ago. This affords Mercedes-Benz fast and cost-efficient entrance to the fast-growing segment of mid-size pickups. In addition, both companies benefit from optimal utilization of the production capacity. Nissan is the second-largest manufacturer of mid-size pickups with a payload of one ton in the world, and can look back on more than 80 years of experience in producing and marketing these types of vehicles.
Ranger, Hilux, L200 in race for Pickup of the Year prize
The intense competition raging in the light trucks segment of the Nigerian auto market will reach a climax on November 24 when one of the three frontrunners – Ford Ranger, Mitsubishi L200 and Toyota Hilux – will be garlanded with the 2016 Pickup of the Year award.
The trio had been shortlisted in the category, which analysts expect to be almost as keenly contested as the Car of the Year prize at this year’s Nigerian Auto Journalists Association (NAJA) annual auto awards holding at Eko Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos.
The police, the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), para-military groups, state traffic agencies and other organisations (government and private) use pickups as utility vehicles.
Hilux and Ranger were nominated for the 2015 edition of the NAJA awards with the former emerging the winner, while the Ranger won the prize in 2014.
The L200 is one of Mitsubishi’s long-time global best-sellers. Designed as an ultimate sport utility truck, the manufacturer says the vehicle combines the comfortable interior of a passenger car with the functionality and reliability of a pickup.
CFAO Motors says the all-new L200 is built to handle all kinds of terrain, adding that it achieves high levels of safety performance through its durable and sturdy chassis and frame structures along with its impact safety body. The L200 is available in single cab and double cab variants, with a three-engine line-up.
The Hilux is available in two/four-wheel drive, single/double cabin, and petrol/diesel engine. Here is a piece of information provided by Toyota Nigeria Limited on Hilux: “All models feature a laser-welded high-tensile steel body and chassis that has been subjected to exhaustive CAE simulation resulting in light weight with excellent torsional rigidity for precise handling.”
The Hilux has high-integrity cabin that protects its occupants and ensures the doors function normally after a collision to facilitate escape or rescue efforts.
Hilux’s other safety features include front and rear three-point ELR seatbelts, headrests, and an energy-absorbing steering column that contributes to the driver’s protection in the event of a frontal collision.
Ford says its new Ranger pickup offers customers’ improved fuel efficiency, a bold new design and cutting-edge technologies.
According to the automaker, the Ranger remains one of the most capable and versatile trucks in its, as customers can choose from three body styles: two-door regular cab, super cab with additional rear-hinged doors accessing second-row seating, and four-door double cab.
The Vice-President, Marketing, Ford of Europe, Roelant de Waard, said, “With the stunning new Wildtrak at the pinnacle of the line-up, the new Ford Ranger provides customers with an unbeatable combination of four-wheel drive capability, stand-out styling and premium features like SYNC 2 connectivity.”