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BMW of Australia really, really wants a pickupby Ronan Glon
The project is under consideration in Munich.
Mercedes-Benz took the luxury segment by surprise when it introduced a body-on-frame pickup truck named X-Class last year. Rival BMW wants a piece of the action, especially in Australia where the pickup segment grew by 17 percent in 2017.
"We cannot close our eyes and neglect [the pickup segment], we cannot neglect market trends," warned Marc Werner, the head of the company's Australian division, in an interview with CarAdvice.
There's no word on what BMW's answer to the X-Class (pictured) will look like if it's approved for production. Engineers can conceivably take several paths to the segment.
First, they can borrow the Hilux architecture from industrial partner Toyota and bring a rugged, body-on-frame off-roader to the market. That's roughly what Mercedes did; the X-Class is a re-skinned Nissan Navara. BMW can also build its truck on the CLAR architecture and end up with a more lifestyle-focused unibody model; think of it as an upmarket Honda Ridgeline.
There's no word on when (or if) the model will receive the proverbial green light for production. Werner claims the project is under consideration in Munich, so it's not merely a pipe dream. But while building a pickup is entirely feasible from an engineering standpoint, the chances of seeing one in showrooms depend on how well it fits into the brand's image and values.
"We have raised that with headquarters and certainly investigations are happening as we speak, but it's too early to speak about the results of that analysis," he said.
Photos by Ronan Glon.