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Mercedes, Renault, Fiat enter UK pick-up race

Date: 21 April 2015   |   Author:

The UK pick-up market is set to experience rapid growth over the next few years with the arrival of three new entrants.

Mercedes-Benz, Renault and Fiat Professional will each be launching a one-tonne pick up in the UK following a series of manufacturing co-operations. Mercedes and Renault will both launch their double-cab models based on the next-generation Nissan Navara pick-up, which goes on sale in the UK at the end of this year, while Fiat is expected to launch its own pick-up based on a tie-up with Mitsubishi and its L200 model.

It expands the amount of manufacturers in the market to 11. Mercedes, Renault and Fiat all have commercial vehicle operations, but will join Ford, Nissan, Mitsubishi, VW, Isuzu, Great Wall, Ssangyong and Toyota in the expanding market.

Fleets and businesses are back in the market for commercial vehicles, with sales up 22.3% to almost 100,000 vehicles in the first quarter of this year. Pick-up sales in particular saw a 27.6% increase in registrations in the March-plate change month to 7463 units.

Mercedes and Renault-Nissan's cooperation is part of a five-year deal. The German brand will launch premium lifestyle model aimed at personal and commercial use before 2020.

Dr. Dieter Zetsche, chairman of the board of management of Daimler and head of Mercedes-Benz cars, said: "Entering the rapidly growing segment of mid-size pick-ups is an important step in continuing our global growth path.

"Thanks to our well-established partnership with the Renault-Nissan Alliance, we are able to drastically reduce the time and cost to enter this key segment."

Production of Renault's truck will begin in 2016 at Nissan's plant in Cuernavaca, Mexico. The product will mark Renault's second entry into the segment after plans to launch a half-tonne pick-up in global growth markets later this year.

Carlos Ghosn, Renault-Nissan chairman and CEO, said: "Thanks to our cooperation with Daimler on this project, we will be able to share the cost of investment, while at the same time open up new markets in the Latin American region for the Renault-Nissan Alliance."

Meanwhile, pick-up manufacturer Isuzu is looking to push harder into the sector with the launch of a new fleet dealer programme, while also confirming what the Japanese firm claimed is a new record fleet deal, with the Environment Agency ordering 197 of its D-max pick-ups. The Isuzu fleet centres have been selected to cater for fleet drivers and managers and, so far, 50 have been appointed as fleet centres.

To qualify, each dealer had to sign a 14-point fleet charter agreement. Items within the charter include capped labour and parts rates, the option of a courtesy vehicle and full access to technical support at all times.

"We are moving into new territory with our fleet business and naturally we're keen to ensure that our new partners are given excellent service and aftercare from the outset. We have an advantage in that our dealers only sell pick-ups, which mean they are highly knowledgeable of the sector and pick-up drivers," said Alan Able, Isuzu UK fleet operations manager.

The EA's order consists of a mix of single cab, extended cab and double cab utility-spec models and will be delivered over the next three months.

Isuzu is also reacting to the growing pick-up market with the launch of a range-topping Blade edition of its D-max pick-up priced from £25,999.