Daimler is hoping its updated Mercedes/Freightliner Sprinter will hold off competition from Ford and Chrysler in the competitive and profitable commercial van segment.

The German automaker makes 15 commercial vehicles it sells worldwide and has recently created dedicated commercial van divisions for every region. Bernhard Glaser is the new managing director of commercial vans for Mercedes-Benz USA.

Daimler was the first automaker to sell a European-styled commercial van in the U.S. in 2001. It was the round peg in a square hole: a tall, gangly van with a diesel to compete with the boxy American vans powered by big V8 gasoline engines that accounted for almost 80% of the U.S. market.

The third-generation 2014 Mercedes Sprinter, shipped in kit-form from Germany and assembled at the Freightliner plant in Charleston, S.C., faces a new round of competition that looks strikingly similar to what it faced more than a decade ago.

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