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Mercedes-Benz’s Nissan-Based X-Class Pickup Truck Dies a Predictable Death

You can take the Nissan badges off the Navara pickup, but you can't take the Navara pickup out of the Mercedes X-Class.

You can take the Nissan badges off the Navara pickup, but you can't take the Navara pickup out of the Mercedes X-Class.

After just three years on the market, Mercedes-Benz’s X-Class pickup is being discontinued. Production will cease at its assembly plant in Spain by June. If you’re unfamiliar with the X-Class, it is a midsize pickup truck that is pretty much a badge-engineered version of the Nissan Navara, the global-market version of the lowly Frontier. That little factoid should answer questions about why Mercedes never brought the X-Class to the truck-loving U.S. of A., even though it (briefly) considered doing so.

The Nissan connection also probably serves as a decent explanation for why, even overseas, where Mercedes’ commercial-vehicle offerings are better known, the X-Class failed to win over European customers. The truck started out with sound enough logic: Mercedes’ commercial-vehicle unit was looking to expand its offerings with a pickup and, lacking one, struck a deal with Renault-Nissan to develop its own version of the Navara. The partnership saved Mercedes the cost of developing an all-new truck, and the German automaker thus sank most of the project budget into differentiating the X-Class’ interior and exterior styling from the Navara’s.

Although the end result looks almost nothing like a Navara, the X-Class nevertheless was dogged by its Nissan roots. There were some interior bits that carried over, and it seems Mercedes had trouble convincing buyers to pay three-pointed-star money for what amounted to a tarted-up Navara. According to Automotive News Europe, X-Class sales in 2018 totaled just 16,700 globally (meaning in Europe, Australia, and South Africa). Roughly 10,000 X-Class pickups were sold in the first nine months of 2019. Such slow sales fell nowhere near Benz’s projections at the time of the X-Class’ launch, which relied on forecasts that the midsize pickup truck segment would grow by 3.2 million units in the next 10 years. Perhaps it will, but not with any contribution from the X-Class, it seems. So long, weird corporate mashup pickup truck. We barely knew thee.