Mercedes-Benz Titan. Mercedes-Benz Frontier. Mercedes-Benz pickup truck. None of these things roll off the tongue particularly well. We'd like to think that's the reason Daimler opted to kill the idea of rebadged Titan and Frontier pickups from corporate ally Nissan. In reality, the execution before the Frankfurt Motor Show was due to more complicated issues.
Yes, Mercedes, byword for German luxury, style and quality, would have slapped a three-pointed star on a pair of Japanese pickup trucks that have failed to resonate with consumers in the world's largest truck market. That slapping of badges isn't much of an exaggeration, at least on the outside. According to the report from Road & Track, the truck's front clip would have been tweaked, but beyond that, the sheetmetal would have been unchanged. The interior would have received a more thorough going-over by the team at Mercedes, while the suspension and noise, vibration and harshness tuning would have also received significant attention.
The trucks would have ended up being sold through the light-commercial branch of Mercedes-Benz - the same folks that will happily sell you a Sprinter van - had the deal gone through. Issues arose, though, first with the engines. Mercedes wanted a wider range of powertrains to allow it to tune models for specific markets, while Nissan said it couldn't engineer the wide variety of engines that MB wanted to drop under the hood. For the smaller truck, meanwhile, MB was interested in a hybrid or plug-in variant, according to R&T, although this was also shot down by Nissan.
Interestingly, the report claims the decision by Mercedes has essentially given the green light to Infiniti, Nissan's premium brand, to engineer a higher-end pickup. No word on if the Infiniti-badged Titan will arrive before or after the next-generation truck debuts, but we'd have to assume the latter.
Mercedes, meanwhile, may not have totally abandoned its truck plans. An unnamed source within Infiniti told the buff book, "We know about their pickup, but as long as they price it more enthusiastically than ours, we don't think it will impact our plans."
Update: Infiniti has issued an official denial of any plans for a pickup truck, with spokesman Kyle Bazemore writing, "Reports that Infiniti might offer a full-size truck based on the next-generation Nissan Titan are wrong. Infiniti has no such plans."