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Mercedes-Benz developing ute to rival HiLux

Tray chic! As our workhorses become show ponies Mercedes-Benz is about to get down and dirty in the ute market.

Mercedes-Benz, the inventor of the automobile, is about to roll up its sleeves and join the ute market – and Australia has been the driving force behind it.

The German car-maker has made the shock announcement that it will introduce a pick-up “by the end of the decade” to take on the likes of the Toyota HiLux.

It will be the first ever ute from a luxury brand and is a clear sign of just how much our workhorses have become show ponies as buyers demand more car-like features.

The Toyota HiLux was the second most popular vehicle in Australia last year and four utes made it into the Top 10, as buyers embrace the ability of utes to be used for “work and play”.

“We’ve been pushing for this for some years, it’s now across the line and we can’t wait,” said Mercedes-Benz Australia spokesman David McCarthy.

“The ute market has dramatically changed over the past decade and we’re going to bring new levels of luxury and technology. We think the market’s ready for it.”

The ute market has dramatically changed over the past decade and we’re going to bring new levels of luxury and technology.

Earlier this week Ford released a new version of the Ranger ute, ahead of its showroom arrival in July, with technology that first appeared on luxury cars just five years ago.

The new Ranger, by far Ford's biggest selling model locally, will be available with radar cruise control, blind spot warning and a lane-keeping system that will gently steer the car if the onboard cameras sense it is wandering from the lane.

The global pick-up market was even too big for Volkswagen to ignore, releasing the Amarok ute in 2010.

The year 2015 is going to be a boom time for utes, with five significant new models due in the next seven months, including the Mitsubishi Triton (April), Nissan Navara (May), Ford Ranger (July), Mazda BT-50 (August) and Toyota HiLux (October).

The official statement from Mercedes-Benz of Germany said: “The midsize pick-up segment is currently undergoing a transformation worldwide. More and more pickups are being used for private purposes, and commercial as well as private users are increasingly asking for vehicles that have car-like specifications. Mercedes-Benz is the first premium manufacturer to respond to this market shift by developing its own pick-up.”