When Mercedes launched its X-Class pick-up, it expected some backlash. But opposition to the luxurious workhorse has now come from an unexpected place, as a high-ranking BMW executive spoke out against the X-Class at the Frankfurt Motor Show.
Hendrik von Kunheim, senior vice-president in charge of BMW's Asian and South African markets told Australian car publication Motoring that the X-Class was "a disappointment."
"When you look now at our German competitor from Stuttgart I think that product is appalling. You would have expected something more serious," von Kunheim said.
"I saw that car in Geneva and was actually disappointed. Very disappointed. They can do better, they build fantastic cars, but this one was a disappointment."
So is that the death knell for a BMW pickup? Far from it, says von Kunheim. "I personally believe, having been in Australia for more than three years, that there is room for a luxury ute, which is not there at this point in time."
However, it's worth noting that the classic Australian 'ute' (an abbreviation of 'coupe utility') tends to be a far cry from the extended-cab pickup trucks we're used to in the UK.
The term is used in Australia to describe working vehicles with car-based origins – usually two-wheel drive, two-seat vehicles with a load bed at the rear.
Therefore, if BMW did produce a ute, it would not be a true competitor for the Nissan Navara-based X-Class in the luxury pickup segment, but a standalone vehicle.
Von Kunheim says he's open to the prospect. "The fundamental question is now segments, how are the segments developing. I remember heated discussions 20-something years ago when [we said] 'does an SUV fit to a BMW brand?'
"Now we have an X1, X2, X3, X5, X6, X7 and who knows what else is coming? So the market and customer demand is changing.
"For me it is crystal clear. If the market goes to an SUV share of 60 or 70 per cent then there is also space for a ute."