Renault-Nissan Alliance announced that Daimler AG will work together with Nissan on developing a Mercedes-Benz-badged pickup truck based on the world-market Nissan NP300 Navara/Frontier pickup. The new Mercedes pick-‘em-up won’t be a Nissan with a three-pointed star on its grille, but rather, we’re told, it will “share some of the architecture with the all-new Nissan NP300 but it will be engineered and designed by Daimler to meet the specific needs of its customers.”
Mercedes is getting into the pickup game, according to Dr. Dieter Zetsche, Daimler chairman and head of Mercedes-Benz cars, because it’s a growing market and they want to be there, and working with Nissan to develop their own version of the NP300 will get them there faster.
Renault-Nissan has already announced that it will be building a Renault-badged version of the Nissan Navara that will be built in Nissan’s Cuernavaca plant in central Mexico, beginning in 2016. It will be Renault’s first-ever one-ton pickup. A half-ton pickup truck from Renault will debut later this year.
Nissan will build the Mercedes-Benz 1-ton pickup truck at the Renault plant in Cordoba, Argentina, where it will also build the Nissan NP300 and the Renault 1-ton truck. That factory will supply the Latin America market. The Nissan plant in Barcelona, Spain, will build pickup trucks for Europe and other markets, although not North America. Production of the three trucks at the two plants will start “by the end of the decade.”
The new Mercedes-Benz pickup will feature a double cab and will be suited for personal-use and commercial customers.
But will the as yet unnamed Mercedes-Benz pickup be heading for the roundup on Rodeo Drive? That depends. At this point it hasn’t been announced whether the next generation Nissan Frontier sold in the U.S. will use the Navara chassis, and with a new full-size Nissan Titan pickup on the way, Nissan isn’t going to steal any thunder from that important introduction with an announcement of its plans for replacement of its mid-size truck.
The American-market Nissan Frontier is built in Smyrna, Tennessee, about 20 miles south of Nashville. Tariff laws make importing a pickup truck built outside the U.S. too expensive to be competitive, so any Mercedes-Benz pickup for North America could be co-manufactured with the Nissan Frontier. On the other hand, the Nissan-built Mercedes pickup truck made in Mexico could be imported to the U.S. and not be subject to the 25 percent truck tariff.
Would a Mercedes-priced pickup truck be successful in the United States? No doubt there are numbers being crunched. After all, who ever thought we’d see a $50,000-plus pickup from GMC?