a global market clamoring for a luxury pickup

Mercedes executives believe there is a global market clamoring for a luxury pickup, and they are placing a nearly billion-dollar wager that they are just the automaker to fill that niche.

Unveiled in October, this will be Mercedes-Benz first foray into the global midsized pickup market, and is the only current luxury brand to sport a truck. It is scheduled to launch in late 2017 under the name Mercedes-Benz X-Class.

Grand Rapids, Michigan-based auto analyst, James Gillette, said he is intrigued by the new concept, and predicts that there will likely be a receptive global market for the pickups.

Dieter Zetsche, chairman of the board of Daimler AG and head of Mercedes-Benz Cars, wrote in a statement that the pickup will close one of the last gaps in the automaker’s portfolio.

“Our target: we want to offer customers vehicles matching their specific needs. The X-Class will set new standards in a growing segment,” Zetsche said.

The X-Class will have a payload capacity of more than 1.1 ton and a towing capacity of up to 3.5 tons, which is roughly equivalent to a Chevrolet Colorado.

Mercedes says that will provide enough power for transporting four cubic meters of firewood on the pickup bed or a sail boat hooked up to the trailer hitch.

The top-of-the-line model will be powered by a V6 diesel in combination with 4MATIC permanent all-wheel drive.

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Volker Mornhinweg, head of Mercedes-Benz Vans, wrote that the pickup will know no compromise.

He said the vehicle will have a ladder-type frame, high-torque six-cylinder engine, and permanent all-wheel drive.

“As an added value we bring safety, comfort, agility, and expressive design – in other words, everything that distinguishes vehicles bearing the Mercedes star. We will thus appeal to new customers who have not considered owning a pickup before,” Mornhinweg wrote.

The X-Class will offer two design variations – the “Powerful Adventurer” and the “Stylish Explorer.”

The Powerful Adventurer will emphasize the vehicle’s off road capabilities and sport options like an electric wench and a dash-mounted fire extinguisher.