Midsize Trucks: Ram, No; Mercedes-Benz, Maybe
Mercedes Pickup Would be Luxury Offering, Not Work Vehicle
Two automakers announced their midsize truck aspirations (or lack thereof) for the United States today. In two articles appearing in Automotive News, Ram Truck boss Bob Hegbloom said he can’t make the numbers work to bring a midsize pickup to the market, while the U.S.-based arm of German automaker Mercedes-Benz said it would mull over the market potential of importing the brand’s upcoming truck to America.
Hegbloom’s primary hangup in offering a midsize truck from the Ram brand is the cost of development. With the division’s EcoDiesel-powered fullsize 1500 pickup achieving up to 29 mpg, Hegbloom says developing a midsize offering that beats that number would be too expensive to justify it.
"If full-size now is pushing 30 [mpg], you're going to expect a midsize to be at least at 35," Hegbloom said, speaking to Automotive News. "You're also going to expect it to be significantly less expensive. But to bring the technology in to deliver on 35 mpg, then you're going to raise the price."
He has a point, as his division’s Ram 1500 EcoDiesel beats both the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon in terms of highway fuel efficiency. And with gas prices as low as they are today, many consumers haven’t been paying as much attention to fuel economy, meaning more are willing to jump into less efficient fullsize trucks. Rumors had circulated that a Fiat Strada-based Ram 700 (pictured above) might come to the U.S. as a compact pickup offering, but that's not likely.
However, fans of city-friendly smaller trucks may have some reason to be happy, as Mercedes-Benz USA CEO Steve Cannon told Automotive News that the company would decide on whether or not to market the upcoming Benz pickup in the U.S. by December 31. However, that offering would be a premium luxury vehicle sold by the company’s mainstream dealers, rather than a commercial vehicle sold through Mercedes’ Sprinter outlets.
This would be the first midsize pickup sold by a premium brand in the United States, although the truck would likely see competition from the rumored GMC Canyon Denali and, to a lesser extent, the Toyota Tacoma Limited. Therefore, if it were sold here, we’d expect a $50,000 base price and a long list of standard accouterments to justify the window sticker.
The nitty-gritty details on the MB pickup haven’t been finalized, although unsubstantiated rumors suggest it’ll be based on a Nissan platform. We think the company’s 2.1L diesel I-4, retuned for more torque than the 369 lb-ft it makes in the E-Class sedan, would make a good rival for the upcoming Duramax-powered GMC Canyon. Mercedes-Benz USA division has until the end of the year to decide if it wants a version of the truck in order to give engineers enough time to design it for U.S. homologation.