In the US, just like in Europe, the commercial van segment is both very profitable and competitive, so Daimler bets its updated Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, sold in the States under the Freightliner brand will fend off competition from Ford and Chrysler.
To ensure its success in the segment, the German automaker, which currently sells globally 15 commercial vehicles has decided to create new entities for each region – in charge of the dedicated commercial van divisions.
The third generation 2014 Mercedes Sprinter, which is being assembled at the Freightliner plant in Charleston, South Carolina, is shipped from Germany as kit units. And after being the first to go into the US market with an European van – opposing diesel to the 80% big V8 gasoline engined American vans, the Sprinter faces the competition on its own terms.
“A major change is happening,” said Bernhard Glaser, the new managing director of commercial vans for Mercedes-Benz USA. “Core competitors are updating their fleets to Euro-style vans.”
While GM alone remains the company that offers more traditional style with the Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana, the others are going the European way. Ford made the move to replace the E-series van with the Transit in a $1.1 billion move that saw it retool a whole plant. And Chrysler is already selling the Ram ProMaster – which is based on the Fiat Ducato/Citroen Jumper/Peugeot Boxer trio.