BMW has orbited around the pickup segment several times over the past few years without landing in it. In 2016, right after Mercedes-Benz badge-engineered a Nissan Navara into the short-lived X-Class, one of the Munich-based company’s executives confirmed his team was “watching the [pickup] space closely.” In 2019, an X7-based pickup concept made its debut to haul motorcycles. The final call is no, however.

“I think a pickup truck is beyond the brand,” explained Bernd Körber, the senior vice president of BMW brand and product management, in an interview with enthusiast publication BMW Blog. “In principle, I would say for a brand like BMW to differentiate, to make cars that are dream cars that really bring out the essence of BMW, we need niche models,” he added. In his opinion, a truck simply wouldn’t fit the bill.

Mercedes-Benz came to a similar conclusion: It axed the X-Class (which wasn’t imported to the United States) three years after unveiling the model. Over at Audi, we haven’t seen a production-bound truck, but the Activesphere concept shown in 2023 featured a truck-like cargo box.

That doesn’t mean BMW buyers will need to look elsewhere if they want a vehicle capable of serious off-roading. Körber told BMW Blog that his team has noticed rugged off-roaders, such as the Land Rover Defender and the Toyota Land Cruiser, have become increasingly popular in recent years. BMW doesn’t have Land Rover’s off-roading heritage, though it briefly owned the British brand and supplies some of its engines, but it’s open to the idea of giving buyers a more outdoorsy alternative to the popular SUVs in its range, like the X3 and the X5.

“Open to” isn’t synonymous with “developing,” and it sounds like nothing is set in stone; this is just an idea bouncing around Munich’s executive board meetings. One factor working in favor of a more rugged SUV is that it would have a global appeal. “Rugged is an interesting trend because it has moved from [being a] U.S., South Africa, and Australia phenomenon into a global phenomenon,” Körber pointed out.

If the model receives the proverbial green light for production, BMW Blog speculates that it will arrive as a more off-road-capable evolution of an existing model rather than as a standalone nameplate. Put another way, we’re more likely to see a jacked-up X5 with meaty tires than a boxy, G-Class-like SUV designed from the ground up to rip across the desert. There’s no word on when a decision will be made, however.

 

 



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