With its future having been in considerable doubt since reports of its axing emerged in July last year, a Spanish newspaper has allegedly confirmed that Daimler has called halt on its joint venture with the Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi Alliance in producing the Mercedes-Benz X-Class.
In spite of Mercedes-Benz executives denying in numerous occasions that the slow-selling X-Class would be axed, La Vangardia reports that Nissan Europe Chairman, Gianluca de Ficchy, had informed union representatives at the automaker’s plant in Barcelona where the X-Class is made alongside the Nissan Navara and Renault Alaskan, that the three-pointed star had taken the decision to exit the partnership after only two years.
Despite no reasons for the decision being revealed, it is widely believed that the X-Class’ poor sales performance in key markets throughout 2018, as well as the strained relationship between Nissan and Renault on the back of the arrest of former Chairman, Carlos Ghosn, have emerged as key motivating factors.
The apparent breakdown comes on the back of a report by Automotive News Europe that Nissan could cut as much as 12 500 jobs globally and close a number of factories in an attempt to return back to profitability, and after former Seat boss, Luca de Meo, had been appointed as Renault’s new CEO following’s Ghosn’s dismissal over alleged financial irregularities.
Mercedes-Benz’s reported departure is set to put further strain on the Barcelona plant as the end of X-Class production would see a 15% drop in the factory’s output and threaten the jobs of some of the plant’s 3 000 employees.
The X-Class’ poor performance during its first full year in production didn’t recover in 2019 either with La Vangardia reporting that only 8 000 units were produced at the factory, a drop of 60% from the 16 700 moved in 2018, with matters having been worsened by a breakdown in production that would have taken place in South America.
According to motor1.com Brazil, an agreement to boost X-Class sales by producing it at Nissan’s Santa Isabel plant in Argentina last year failed to materialise after alleged contractual disagreements between executives from both manufactures. At present, no comment from Mercedes-Benz on any of the mentioned claims has been made.