The Europeanization of the North American cargo van segment has been vindicating to Mercedes-Benz, which has offered its Sprinter van in various incarnations to this market since the mid-90s.
Seemingly emboldened by the arrival of the Euro-style Ford Transit and the introduction of new European-inspired designs from Nissan and Ram, Mercedes-Benz has given Sprinter customers a full slate of new features and options on 2014 and 2015 model year vehicles. Trucknews.com reported that the cargo van segment is booming, with demand for full-sized vans up 15.5% year-to-date, and Mercedes has positioned itself to increase its share of this segment, having in January created a dedicated U.S. van division.
“Our sales are up just about 19% year-over-year, and that’s with seeing a great influx of new products into this market,” said Rob Moran, director of corporate communications during a press ride-and-drive at the Charleston plant where U.S. Sprinters are assembled. “When we started with the Sprinter we were a standalone. We’re now seeing some of our domestic competitors come out with their versions and it has really heated up the segment.”
Just how your Sprinter gets to you is an interesting story in itself. US cargo-carrying Sprinters are assembled in Dusseldorf, Germany, test driven, and then disassembled before being shipped to Charleston where the vehicles are put back together. This process contributes about 7-9% of the cost of a Sprinter, but is necessary to sidestep so-called chicken tax tariffs, which would total 25% of the cost of the vehicle.
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