2015 New York motor show: The proposed Mercedes-Benz ute, or pick-up, is unlikely to spawn a high-performance V8-powered AMG version
DAYS after announcing it would produce a ute by 2020, Mercedes-Benz executives have told Wheels that a high-performance AMG version is unlikely.
Speaking at the 2015 New York motor show, AMG boss Tobias Moers said there had been no discussions around an AMG version of the upcoming ute, which is expected to be based on the underpinnings of the Nissan Navara as part of a component-sharing agreement. The engine mooted would be the new 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 that powers the Mercedes-AMG GT as well as the brilliant Mercedes-AMG C63 S sedan and wagon.
“We have never discussed it,” said Moers. “Give it some time. We have to wait a little bit.
“We’ve never been in that segment and we don’t have any experience in that segment, so we need to do some research.”
Further reducing the chances was the response by Mercedes-Benz USA president and CEO Stephen Cannon.
When asked if he would like an AMG version of the ute, he said: “I don’t think so. To create niches of niches that are super, super-small, you’re slicing it very, very thin.”
Despite a love of big utes – or trucks/pick-ups – Cannon said the decision had not been made to sell it in the US and that the global business case had been predicated on not selling it in North America.
He said that, because it was smaller than the Dodge Ram, Ford F150 and Chevrolet Silverado that dominate the US truck market, it would not be a big seller.
“It’s a niche market [in America],” said Cannon. “We already know our customers have pick-ups. For that higher-end clientele that naturally is biased towards a Mercedes-Benz or a luxury product anyway, for us to then satisfy the pick-up need with an M-B-branded product, then there’s the opportunity.
“We’re looking at it and if we think we can get the right product at the right price point that still fits with our brand … interested, so we’re now looking at.
“We’ve got a little bit of time to decide whether it’s right, and if it’s right we’ll add it. We just haven’t made that decision yet.
“We’re not going after the workmen, the work site kind of marketplace.”
The prospect of a brand such as AMG, known for its V8s, not fitting the throaty engine to a ute will no doubt be foreign to some Australians, who have had V8 utes on their four-wheeled menus for decades.
But the rest of the world isn’t as mad about V8 utes as Australia.
Mercedes-Benz global vice-president of sales and product management, Matthias Luehrs, added that because it is a commercial vehicle it may not be suited to the AMG treatment.
“It’s not planned at the moment – maybe one day,” he said. “It’s not being done and designed by [Mercedes-Benz] passenger cars, it’s a van product, it’s coming out of our van division.
“AMG, obviously, is linked to passenger cars.
“I know the pick-up will be sold in the showroom as a passenger car.”