And yet BMW is considering launching a premium pickup truck of its own.
Mercedes-Benz is about to make a surprise venture into the uncharted premium pickup sector with the upcoming launch of its first dedicated pickup, the X-Class, blending the luxury the brand is renowned for with utility to compete with the Ford F-150 and Toyota Hilux. However, a senior BMW executive isn’t convinced that the X-Class is worthy of the Mercedes name, and has described the luxury pickup as “appalling” in an interview with Motoring at the Frankfurt Motor Show.
“When you look now at our German competitor from Stuttgart I think that product (X-Class) is appalling,” Hendrik von Kunheim, BMW’s senior vice president in charge of the Asia, and South Africa markets, said bluntly. “You would have expected something more serious. I saw that car (X-Class) in Geneva and was actually disappointed. Very disappointed. They can do better, they build fantastic cars, but this one was a disappointment.” Despite Kunheim’s pessimism towards the X-Class, he did concede that there is potential for the premium pickup market – a void that BMW could potentially fill one day. According to the executive, engineers are already exploring the possibility of a BMW pickup.
“I am well aware that BMW engineers have looked into the detail of what it takes,” he said. “I personally believe, having been in Australia for more than three years, that there is room for a luxury ute, which is not there at this point in time.” “I believe our company could play a crucial role to fulfill that particular niche, but it’s a question of time when this will actually happen. For me it is crystal clear. If the market goes to an SUV share of 60 or 70 per cent then there is also space for a ute.” There have been hopes that a BMW pickup will eventually enter production ever since its elaborate M3 pickup April Fools prank in 2011.
Since then, BMW has seemed conflicted about the idea of launching a pickup truck. Some executives have flatly denied any interest in the market, yet last year Australia’s BMW managing director Marc Werner admitted the automaker is monitoring the pickup segment to determine if it’s worth exploring. While the X-Class uses the Navara platform borrowed from Nissan, a potential BMW pickup could be based on the firm’s in-house platform borrowed from the X5 or X7, or share a Toyota platform.