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BMW Understands Something Mercedes Does Not

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There's a lesson to be learned here.

Ever since Mercedes-Benz launched its X-Class pickup truck, many have wondered whether its two chief German rivals, BMW and Audi, will do the same. Although the X-Class is overseas only, what's there to stop BMW and Audi from following suit? Remember, the X-Class is really just a rebadged Nissan Navara. Developing any new vehicle from scratch costs a fortune. And with that, BMW has not only ruled out an X-Class rival but badge engineering altogether.

Speaking to Australia's Go Auto, BMW Group chief executive Vikram Pawah has reiterated what the company's global R&D chief, Klaus Froehlich, has already made clear: no truck and no rebadging. "I don't really see the need for it right now," Pawah said. "We are pretty much focused on our luxury (vehicles), and I think the company has clearly defined that we are in the luxury business and that's where we are going to be."

BMW is also fully aware that a proper pickup truck requires a body on frame chassis, something the company currently lacks. Mercedes was lacking one as well, hence the need to rebadge the Navara. But BMW understands something Mercedes clearly didn't: badge engineering is horrible, all the more so for a luxury product. "We will never (do) badge engineering; it would be a BMW," Froehlich made absolutely clear. Although Mercedes felt it needed a truck for certain overseas markets, BMW completely disagrees with how its rival went about doing so. Furthermore, the X-Class doesn't look or even feel like a real Mercedes.

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We checked out the X-Class when it premiered at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show and, to put it mildly, were not impressed. For starters, there was way too much cheap plastic in the interior and the Mercedes Silver Star emblem simply looked out of place stamped on the truck's front end. We deemed the X-Class as the "pickup nobody asked for." BMW is wise not to replicate Mercedes' decision. If BMW is going to build a truck, its bones must also be BMW.

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