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Upcoming Mercedes HiLux rival explained

Mercedes-Benz plans to get down and dirty with its own workhorse ute to challenge the Toyota HiLux and Ford Ranger.

The prestige brand that builds everything from the S‒Class limos to the heavy-duty Actros trucks has confirmed it will follow the lead of fellow German brand Volkswagen and build a one‒tonne ute that will rival the Amarok.

Mercedes has announced it will sell the new load hauler in South America, South Africa, Europe and Australia.

It hasn’t given a solid date when the new worker will go on sale, saying only that the vehicle will arrive before the end of the decade. But Working Wheels understands that the ute is well advanced and is only about two years away.

Mercedes-Benz Australia pushed hard for the ute project to go ahead and for it to made available in right-hand drive.

“We have a done a lot of market research and the response (to a Mercedes ute) was overwhelmingly positive,“ says Mercedes-Benz Australia spokesman, David McCarthy.

Mercedes-Benz already sells a ute in some markets, but it is based on the ancient and basic G-Wagen. It also sells similar utes to the Australian Defence Force, with single and double axles, and has just sold a few handful to a Victorian government agency for use in remote access areas.

Mercedes will use the new ute as a flagship as it enters new markets with its commercial vehicle division

But there are no plans to sell the G-Wagen ute models to the general public.

The new one-tonner workhorse will be a different matter entirely and the production scale of selling to so many markets means Mercedes will be able to make a relatively affordable ute.

“It is not going to be a Great Wall, but it will be competitive,” McCarthy says.

Mercedes will use the new ute as a flagship as it enters new markets with its commercial vehicle division as well as lifting the profile of its working vehicles in other markets.

The new hauler will be built on Nissan’s D23 Navara platform

“The Mercedes-Benz pick-up will contribute nicely to our global growth targets,” Daimler chairman Dr Dieter Zetsche says. “We will enter this segment with our distinctive brand identity and all of the vehicle attributes that are typical of the brand with regard to safety, comfort, powertrains, and value.”

Details are limited at this stage, but the Wall Street Journal, which first broke the Mercedes ute story, reports the new hauler will be built on Nissan’s D23 Navara platform.

The new Navara, which goes on sale locally in late May, features a coil spring rear suspension, which is the first in its class and is designed to increase ride comfort while still managing a payload in excess of one-tonne.

Responsibility for the new ute rests with the Mercedes-Benz van division, which sells the Vito and Sprinter vans in Australia.

The news comes just weeks after Hyundai announced plans to build a ute, called the Santa Cruz. Much to the dismay of the Hyundai Australia team, the vehicle will be a car-based crossover rather than a body on frame worker to take on the HiLux and Ranger.

Land Rover has also indicated it could build a ute version of its next generation Defender, but the company has ruled out it being a workhorse, instead suggesting it would be more of a prestige model.

Mercedes is expected to bring a high level of technology to the class and will need to, given the technologically advanced updated Ford Ranger that is due about July. That ute will feature electrically assisted steering, engine start-stop, as well as advanced safety features such as automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control.