The Renault-Nissan Alliance and Germany’s Daimler AG are collaborating on a new Mercedes-Benz-badged midsize pickup platform to be built in Europe and South America for the global market – a light truck that won’t be coming to the U.S., at least not in the near term.
“There are currently no plans to bring this vehicle to the U.S., but we are watching the development of this particular segment – midsize pickups – in the U.S. very closely,” Florian Martens, director of global communications for commercial vehicles at Daimler AG, told Fleet Owner.
The new Mercedes-Benz pickup will share some of the architecture with the Nissan NP300 introduced in June of last year, but it will be engineered and designed by Daimler to meet the specific needs of its customer segment, noted Dieter Zetsche, chairman of Daimler AG and head of Mercedes-Benz cars, in a statement.
"Entering the rapidly growing segment of midsize pickups is an important step in continuing our global growth path,” he added. “Thanks to our well-established partnership with the Renault-Nissan Alliance, we are able to drastically reduce the time and cost to enter this key segment."
Daimler noted that its version of the NP300 pickup will feature a double cab and will be targeted at both the personal-use and commercial segments.
The primary target markets for the truck are Europe, Australia, South Africa and Latin America, the OEM added.
Nissan currently builds the NP300 in Thailand and Mexico and sells it under the names “Navara” and “Frontier,” depending on the market. It’s a platform that’s also rumored to be the foundation of the new iteration of the U.S.-bound Frontier midsize pickup as well – a light truck that Nissan and Cummins Inc. are currently using in prototype testing for a new small-block diesel engine.
Nissan said it is also developing another version of the NP300 for France’s Renault, with production slated to begin in 2016 at Nissan's plant in Cuernavaca, Mexico.
The Mercedes-Benz pickup will be built by Nissan in the Renault plant in Cordoba, Argentina, alongside the Nissan NP300 (seen below on the right) and the Renault’s pickup for the Latin America market.The three trucks will also be built at Nissan’s plant in Barcelona, Spain, too, for other world markets – though that excludes North America at this time – with production of those platforms at both the Cordoba and Barcelona plants to begin by the end of the decade.
The Barcelona plant will produce about 120,000 vehicles annually for the three partners, noted Carlos Ghosn, Renault-Nissan’s chairman and CEO, in a statement, while the Cordoba plant will produce nearly 70,000 vehicles a year.
"Thanks to our cooperation with Daimler on this project, we will be able to share the cost of investment at the Cordoba plant, while at the same time open up new markets in the Latin American region for the Renault-Nissan Alliance," he added. "This project will also allow us to optimize production capacity at the Barcelona plant and enhance our competitiveness in an important segment."
The joint pickup project is the most recent effort spawned by the strategic partnership forged between Daimler AG and the Renault-Nissan Alliance back in 2010. Nissan’s Ghosn said that the partnership is currently working on 13 projects in Europe, Asia and the Americas.
“It enables all partners to increase economies of scale while keeping our brands and products distinct," he explained.