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TMR Team | Sep, 16 2017 | 2 Comments

BMW's Asia Pacific chief, Hendrik von Kuenheim, has labelled the new X-Class pickup by rival Mercedes-Benz as "appalling", saying BMW would take a different approach should it ever decide to build a ute.

But the issues for a new BMW pickup - and there are several - begin immediately after that statement.

Firstly, should the German carmaker join the ever-growing commercial pickup market, a tug-o-war could see BMW Australia's desire for a dual-cab-style ute overruled by the US market and its preference for extra-large pickups.

Next, while Mercedes-Benz's X-Class is sharing its platform with the Nissan Navara, BMW would prefer its ideal pickup to be sportier and more car-like than the workhorses that characterise the dual-cab market.

“When you look now at our German competitor from Stuttgart [Mercedes-Benz], I think that product [X-Class] is appalling,” von Kuenheimer said. “You would have expected something more serious … not very much Mercedes-like.”

BMW Australia would be thrilled should head office choose to build a ute, and the local arm is leading the charge to convince management that the plan is viable.

“The market and the customer demand is changing,” said von Kuenheim.

Along with the X-Class, a BMW pickup would also compete with the mainstream market including Toyota's HiLux, Ford's Ranger, the Volkswagen Amarok (above) and the aforementioned Navara.

Despite the push from Australia, there is currently no plan for a BMW ute – the company has played with sports ute concepts over the years, but never got close to producing one - and nothing likely to be added to the pipeline short term.

Further, should BMW's wish list for such a model be inflexible, an expensive clean-sheet, all-new design may be the only way to achieve the desired outcome.

Or, one of BMW's passenger cars could provide the platform, in turn sacrificing plenty of load lugging ability for pace and driving enjoyment.

BMW 7 Series - could this be the platform for a new pickup?
BMW 7 Series - could this be the platform for a new pickup?

“It makes perfect sense,” BMW Australia chief Marc Werner said. “There is room for a pure luxury pickup, call it a luxury ute, which is not there at this point in time."

“I believe our company could actually play a crucial roll in order to fill that particular niche but it’s a question of time when this will actually happen.”

While Australia would love a ute, it is not alone among key markets calling for a BMW pickup.

“It has to be a collaborative approach across Australia, South Africa, Russia, Brazil and those kind of markets where the pickup segment is almost exploding,” Werner said.

Von Kuenheimer is realistic, though, and admits other projects will take priority.

"We have many more segments to explore ... the pickup is maybe not the number one priority," he said, while clearly refusing to give up on pushing internally. He added that the billions being poured into electric and autonomous cars made carmakers focus on the priorities more effectively.

"There are, however, a lot of people at BMW who say when they retire they would love to have a pickup!"

MORE: New BMW X3 M Confirmed
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