Mercedes entered the pick-up market with a borrowed ladder chassis from technical partner Nissan. Will BMW follow suit with help from Toyota? That has been a subject for discussion for industry watchers ever since Mercedes introduced the X-Class.
Now, it’s clear that such a possibility from BMW is not on the cards as priorities are focused elsewhere. However, it’s not that BMW didn’t consider the idea.
The Bavarian brand’s global R&D chief, Klaus Froehlich, cleared the air by saying that the potential sales volume in the premium ute segment was simply too small to make such a programme profitable.
A number of BMW executives, including former BMW Group Australia CEO Marc Werner and Hendrik von Kuenheim, who was BMW’s top executive for the Asia-Pacific region, have previously pushed BMW AG in Munich for a pick-up to be added to the line-up.
Froehlich, who is the board member responsible for development, said at the Paris motor show that the lack of opportunity in the market, and the limitations of the company’s vehicle platforms, meant a ute programme was not viable.
“If you look at the segment of pick-up trucks in general, it is very much that utilities at medium price points are very, very low,” he said.
“To do a proper pick-up you need a ladder-frame architecture. If you do a monocoque body style, this is very much compromised. And this is the reason why Daimler uses the Nissan platform and puts a Daimler logo on it,” he added.
BMW considers the X-Class nothing more than a badge engineered job.
While the market for pick-ups is large, the premium side of that market is extremely small, says Froehlich.
BMW has only two architectures (UKL and CLAR) and Froehlich admits it cannot make a proper pick-up truck out of it.
Froehlich dismissed the suggestion that BMW’s partnership with Japanese giant Toyota on the Z4/ Supra sportscars could possibly result in a shared pick-up.
“Honestly, for us the market segment is too small because we are at the higher price end of the pick-up segment,” he said.