Mercedes X-Class: does it stay or does it go?
Rumours again surface that the luxury bakkie could be discontinued early
Rumours have again surfaced that the slow-selling Mercedes-Benz X-Class, which has been in production for less than two years, may be axed early.
Nissan builds the executive double-cab bakkie alongside the Navara (and Renault Alaskan) under an agreement between Daimler and the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance. The X-Class is built in Spain at Nissan’s factory.
In July, Automotive News Europe quoted sources at Daimler as saying that the bakkie will be dropped as the company seeks to reduce costs, though they did not say when.
Earlier this year, Mercedes-Benz chairman Ola Källenius said the company wouldn’t renew its co-operation with joint venture partner Nissan.
The latest rumours of the possible early demise of the X-Class surfaced after Francois Bailley, global head of Nissan pick-up programmes, refused to say whether or not the partnership with Mercedes-Benz would continue.
He told international media at the Tokyo motor show that “we are doing our best to help them and that’s about it"
However, in a statement to Australian website caradvice.com, Mercedes-Benz said the X-Class remains a part of the company’s product portfolio.
“Although we know that the ute plays a very important role in some key markets like Australia, it is a niche product for our overall worldwide product portfolio,” the statement said
It continued: “So we continuously review and analyse which further role the X-Class will play in our product portfolio. We kindly ask you for your understanding that we do not provide any further comments.”
Autobahns stay, German parliamentarians vote
A looming proposal to impose speed limits on Germany's unrestricted autobahn sections was overwhelmingly voted down by the country's parliament. The bill, which would have imposed a universal 130km/h limited on the country's highway system, was defeated, with 498 votes cast against it and 133 either supporting or abstaining, Deutsche Welle reported last week.
While parts of the autobahns and many other freeway-style highways have posted limits up to 130 km/h based on accident experience, congestion and other factors, many rural sections have no general speed limit.
German Green party member and restriction proponent Cem Özdemir said that he didn't expect the measure to pass this time, but he hopes that renewed attempts will bring more representatives into the fold.
Bloodhound LSR rockets to 537 km/h but not without issues
The Bloodhound LSR team on Monday passed a major milestone as the car hit 537 km/h on the Hakskeenpan desert racetrack here in SA, the highest speed it has yet achieved.
Three "run profiles" have now been completed, starting at 160.9 km/h, building to 321.8 km/h. The car’s EJ200 jet engine ran with full reheat (afterburner) for 12 seconds, demonstrating it is in full working order, plus providing impressive drama for those watching.
It marked the true beginning of the high speed test programme, as all systems necessary for running with reheat have now been tested and checked. The car’s speed will be built up in 80 km/h increments over subsequent run profiles, carried out over the next four weeks, with a target top speed above 804km/h for this testing programme.
Despite Monday’s momentous achievement, the first week of high speed testing has not been plain sailing, as the Bloodhound team have faced engine-starting problems since arriving with the car in the Northern Cape on October 21.
Bloodhound LSR CEO Ian Warhurst said: “I’ve been impressed with the tenacity of the team to work through a challenging first week of testing in the Kalahari Desert. With all those issues resolved it’s exciting to be moving into the high speed phase of the testing and get a max reheat run under our belts. Witnessing Bloodhound blasting from 80 km/h to 482km/h in 13 seconds and on to 537km/h was jaw dropping.
The first few runs on the desert have proved the surface is consistently firm, albeit with a slight soft crust in some areas. This flakes away to leave a solid surface to run the car. The V shaped wheel profiles leave a shallow 50mm wide groove in the desert surface.
Bloodhound driver and current world land speed record holder Andy Green said: “We’ve had two very successful runs today, with the second run reaching a max speed of 537 km/h. We’re happy because this was a successful test, now we’re ready to progress on to higher speeds.”
The goal is to beat the existing 1,228km/h land speed record set by Green in the US in 1997.