When Mercedes-Benz announced last year that it was set to enter the one-tonne bakkie market, we jokingly suggested that BMW had better not get any ideas.
Mercedes could easily pull it off, given that it's already a big player in the commercial vehicle market and its G-Class SUV is a hallowed name in the bundu-bashing scene. BMW, while active in the SUV, sorry SAV, has a brand that's practically built on sporty vibes and driving dynamics and a Hilux rival would surely damage the brand?
Yet BMW doesn't necessarily share those sentiments. BMW's Australian boss Marc Werner, when asked his opinion on Merc's plans to launch a bakkie, recently told Motoring.com.au that the company is "watching the space very closely."
This comes just a year after another regional head told the same publication that a BMW pick-up would not happen, so it appears that BMW is now at least open to the idea.
It wouldn't necessarily be as easy for the Bavarian carmaker as it would be for Mercedes as the latter already has commercial vehicle experience and has access, through its alliances, to the Nissan Navara platform that will underpin Merc's new one-tonner when it hits the scene in 2017.
BMW would need to forge its own alliance and dare we suggest that its ties with Toyota, with which it's currently co-developing a sports car, could expand to give it access to the Hilux's architecture? Peugeot has also be linked to a possible Hilux-based bakkie as the French carmaker (which has commercial vehicle ties with Toyota) recently confirmed that it's also jumping on the bakkie bandwagon.
The one-tonne market is certainly getting tougher(er) by the minute (sorry Toyota), with Fiat having recently launched its Mitsubishi-based Fullback and Renault having unveiled its Navara-based Alaskan.
But perhaps BMW is looking at a completely different approach that doesn't even involve tough but old-fashioned body-on-frame construction? What if it simply used one of its current SAV platforms (such as X3 or X5) to create a unibody pick-up that would have a unique position in the market? The end result might not be as good in the bush, but it would certainly be better to drive on tar, and thus BMW might not have to sacrifice too many of its ideals after all.
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