The Mercedes Pickup

12 04 2015

Have you heard the news? Mercedes is joining forces with Nissan to build and MB_LargePickUpmarket a pickup truck. That’s kind of like Jed Clampett and Mrs. Drysdale going in together to have a yard sale. Is that not the dumbest thing you’ve ever heard of? Well, it should, at least, make your top 10 dumb things list, somewhere between valet parking at Wal-Mart and wing tip shoes on a duck. I mean, a truck is a utility vehicle. A truck is a working vehicle intended to haul things, thus, that big open cavity behind the cab. Who is going to pay eighty grand to buy a vehicle they don’t want to get scratched, dented or dirty? Real truck owners want a vehicle they can throw a load of gravel into, or a stack of lumber. They want something they can toss a mattress, a dorm-size refrigerator and six large boxes of shoes into so they don’t have to rent a truck to move their daughters off to college.


Mercedes already makes a good truck which is marketed and used, almost exclusively, outside the U.S. and that, as I understand it is where they plan to roll out the new Mercedes pickup. I’ve seen large Mercedes delivery trucks and 18 wheelers in Europe, South America and Africa. But, a pickup is different. A pickup is, in large part, about image… a masculine image. That’s why the Fords, Chevys and Dodges market to men using narrators with deep, rugged voices, such as Sam Elliott, using phrases like Guts and Glory (Dodge) or Bob Seeger singing Like a Rock (Chevy). But, even more so, it’s about work.


Think of that truck commercial with the guy towing his horse trailer down a dark muddy road and the truck gets stuck. Oh, wait-that isn’t a truck commercial, it’s a VIAGRA commercial. What in the name of Goober Pyle does VIAGRA have to do with a guy driving alone on a dark road and getting stuck in the mud? I have a hard time drawing any correlation between the two. But, I digress. That’s a story for another day.


So imagine, if you will, it is a truck commercial. What does the guy do when he gets his Chevy stuck? He gets the horses out of the trailer, hitches them to the front of the truck and the team pulls the truck out of the mud. Now, let’s replace that Silverado with the new Mercedes pickup. The guy isn’t even going to want to get back into the truck with his muddy boots on, let alone hitch a team of horses up to it.


I’ve owned three trucks-none of which you would want to use to drive your date to the prom, but then that wasn’t why I had them. Each was a working truck. I hauled wood, rock and fishing rods, among other things. I pulled tree stumps out of the ground, boats and utility trailers. They weren’t pretty, but they did the job. A Mercedes truck is (or will be) a show truck. Mercedes will probably market not to the working man, but instead, to the urban cowboy and the poseur who wants one because his friends, Louis and Todd down at the club, have one. Such guys don’t go down to the dealership and ask the salesman about horsepower, payload or towing capacity. They aren’t concerned over the fact it’ll only get about 12 miles to the gallon. They want to know if it comes with heated seats, 12 cup holders and satellite radio. Instead of Bob Seeger and Sam Elliott, their commercials will probably feature Justin Bieber or Taylor Swift.


I don’t speak for J. D. Power and Associates but, I don’t see a long and rich future for Mercedes in the light truck business in the U.S. Like the Lincoln Blackwood or Cadillac’s Escalade EXT, it’ll probably last about 3 years before it will become as extinct as the Edsel. The only place you’ll be able to find one will be on a used car (or truck) lot, or in Germany. One thing is for sure, you won’t find one in my driveway unless I win it on The Price is Right or am gifted by Ellen DeGeneres, and I’m okay with that.




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