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DaimlerChrysler Motors Corp. LLC’s Freightliner Corp. truck dealerships will continue to sell a Freightliner-badged Sprinter cargo van that has become popular in the RV industry as a high-mileage van camper and Class C chassis.
DaimlerChrysler earlier had said that Sprinters would be sold after the first of the year exclusively by Dodge dealerships under Dodge logo.
“We are reacting to the market conditions,” said spokesman Randy Jones. “They have changed.”
The move to keep Freightliner in the mix to distribute the popular cargo van is coming at a time when DaimlerChrysler is moving the reassembly of the Sprinter chassis from Freightliner Custom Chassis Corp.’s headquarters factory in Gaffney, S.C., to a former fire truck manufacturing plant near Charleston, S.C., that DaimlerChrysler recently acquired.
“That move does not change the scope of our U.S. manufacturing or how we assemble the vehicle,” Jones said. “The same work that goes on in Gaffney will go on in Charleston.”
The company next year, meanwhile, will introduce the second-generation Sprinter. Various automotive periodicals have reported that it will have a higher GVWR, a choice of lengths and a gas-engine option.
Currently, the German-built Sprinters are equipped with 2.7 liter 154-hp Mercedes Benz turbo diesel engines that can get over 20 mpg.
With the exception of Airstream’s Dodge Sprinter Westfalia, Sprinter vans, for tax reasons, are built in Germany, disassembled, shipped as a kit to the U.S. and then reassembled here.
In 2005, as many as eight North American manufacturers were building van campers on the Sprinter, while Winnebago Industries Inc., Forest City, Iowa, and Gulf Stream Coach Inc., Nappanee, Ind., were building Sprinter-based Class C motorhomes.
Since the Sprinter was introduced in 2000, DaimlerChrysler has limited the numbers of chassis – also popular as cargo vans for companies such as FedX and UPS – distributed to RV manufacturers.
In 2005, DaimlerChrysler imported about 20,000 units to the U.S., an unknown number of which became RVs.