Mercedes-Benz has defended its decision to base its new X-Class double-cab bakkie on the Nissan Navara, describing the move as “kind of natural”.
“Worldwide – I’m talking about the globe, Earth – in the light commercial vehicle [LCV] business, it’s a common approach to work with partners. That’s all over the place. A lot of companies are working together quite successfully,” Mornhinweg told the Australian publication.
“The reason for that is because, over years, LCV-makers have figured out that if we’d like to be, price-wise, attractive, we have to work in some areas together. We can’t achieve, in our LCV segment, the huge amount of numbers as the passenger cars can. One car can sell millions of units, and if you move millions of units, you can come to a quite attractive cost situation,” he explained.
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“Therefore, in the LCV segment, it’s quite common. It’s a kind of spirit of this, because partnering in the passenger car segment is not that common. In the LCV business, it’s quite common; it’s a kind of natural move to think about these pick-ups,” he added.
Mornhinweg also said that partnering with the Renault-Nissan alliance allowed the Stuttgart automaker to enjoy a faster turnout time as well as a wider spread of manufacturing facilities.
“For us, we had the target that we would like to introduce our product to market in a short-term notice. Second, it’s a global product, so you cannot only build up one facility; an investment in one plant is huge. We have to have that in different places,” he said, referring to Renault-Nissan alliance factories in Spain and Argentina.
“Therefore, we discussed it with Nissan. They were keen, they were willing, to work together with us when we started the discussions some years ago. Especially Nissan, they have a long tradition in doing pick-ups, and the basis, overall, was usable for us, and so we had it done.”
Mornhinweg said that the X-Class wasn’t merely a Navara wearing a Mercedes badge, arguing that the German bakkie featured revised suspension settings, a unique cabin and the option of a V6 in the flagship model.
“If we had done it just as a double-badge [re-badge] as you kind of see in the LCV business, then maybe we would have another discussion. I fully understand that. It’s hard to say it’s a double-badge,” he argued.