Mercedes-Benz contemplates euthanising the X-Class. Good.
If the current febrile automotive and geopolitical climate is any reliable indicator, there may well after all be limits to growth. Certainly, the premium heyday within the auto sector appears to be hitting the buffers with both BMW and Mercedes recently issuing profit warnings.
The situation at BMW is such that it appears its CEO has been ‘encouraged’ to step down, while his newly installed Sindelfingen counterpart must now enact the kind of swinging cuts his predecessor craftily avoided having to carry out. For Mercedes however, the situation is more serious still, as an emissions-related probe seems likely to see the carmaker facing €billions in fines and compensation – a matter which may well prevent the erstwhile CEO from ascending to the chairmanship of Daimler’s supervisory board.
Further collateral damage from this newfound state of affairs is the likely end of the German big three carmakers’ unfettered niche-filling, as the costs of failure, coupled to impending regulatory impositions are likely to fundamentally change the rules of engagement.
A further casualty as reported earlier this week by Automotive News is one which, rather than eliciting tea and sympathy from the massed cohorts of auto-aficionados, is more likely to cue hysterical mirth: The Mercedes X-Class pickup is reportedly to be axed owing to poor sales.
Built at Nissan’s plant in Barcelona, part of Daimler’s collaboration with Renault-Nissan, the X-Class is built on the Nissan Navara/Renault Alaskan platform, body and mechanicals – a matter which has been all too obvious, even to the uninitiated. Optimistic pricing hardly aided its cause, even with the ubiquitous bells and whistles M-B interior.
But notwithstanding the unconvincing appearance and skin-deep nature of its Sensual Purity makeover, the model was also hit by a number of embarrassing recall notices, including one where a detached footwell lamp could potentially foul the brake pedal. Earlier in the year, management reportedly abandoned the introduction of the X-Class into the South American market, whereas unsurprisingly, there was never any intention to offer the model in the US – as it would undoubtedly have been laughed out of court.
Sales have been derisory. First introduced in 2017, X-Class deliveries last year in Europe, Australia and South Africa amounted to a mere 16,700 units, so while it will hardly rival the first generation Smart Car as Sindelfingen’s biggest loss-maker, it’s unlikely that Mercedes have made a euro-cent on the programme.
It’s equally unlikely that anyone (three-pointed star zealots apart), will shed any tears for the cynically conceived and executed Mercedes pickup. The marketers responsible for this “tangible experience of modern beauty” are probably keeping a low profile, because the X-Class will probably go down as hubris, writ large.
So as we vainly attempt to supress our collective schadenfreude, I invite you to revisit this entertaining (if lengthy) piece from 2016, when fellow DTW’s R. Herriott gave the X-Class the welcome it so richly deserved.