Anniversary at Mercedes-Benz Vans
- Big celebration at the Mercedes-Benz Düsseldorf plant
- Over 250 guests including politicians, economists and the media plus employees from the Sprinter plants around the world
- Mercedes-Benz Sprinter established the large vans segment in 1995
- Over 2.9 million Sprinter delivered to customers in the last 20 years
- Mercedes-Benz Vans investing around a billion euros in Germany and the USA for the next Sprinter generation
- Dr Dieter Zetsche: “With the Sprinter, we have created an iconic brand for vans. It established the large vans segment, gave it its name – and has shaped it ever since.”
- Volker Mornhinweg: “The Sprinter is one of the most successful commercial vehicles of all time and a bestseller in the Daimler product portfolio. We expect to break our sales record again in 2015, which would make it the best Sprinter year of all time.”
Düsseldorf – A big stage for the world’s number-one van: today the Sprinter celebrated its 20-year anniversary at the Mercedes-Benz Düsseldorf plant. More than 250 guests including politicians, economists and the media plus employees from the six worldwide Sprinter production sites in Germany, Argentina, China, Russia and the USA attended the official celebration at the Düsseldorf plant.
The Sprinter has been impressing customers since 1995 and is now on the road in over 130 markets as the “world van” among commercial vehicles. Over 2.9 million Sprinter have been delivered to customers since its start of production.
Well-wishers at the official celebration included Hannelore Kraft, First Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, Dr Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars, and Volker Mornhinweg, Head of Mercedes-Benz Vans.
“With the Sprinter, we have created an iconic brand for vans. It established the large vans segment, gave it its name – and has shaped it ever since,” stated Dr Dieter Zetsche at the van’s anniversary celebration.
First Minister Hannelore Kraft likewise offered her congratulations for the twentieth anniversary: “The Sprinter not only has a 20-year success story behind it, but also outstanding future prospects – thanks to the decision to make the Mercedes-Benz plant in Düsseldorf a competence centre for global Sprinter production and the commitment made to back the highly qualified and reliable personnel here at the site over the long-term. I am delighted by both of these aspects and see them as a vote of confidence – in the site and the workforce.”
Volker Mornhinweg, responsible for the worldwide van business, spoke at the official celebration: “The Sprinter is one of the most successful commercial vehicles of all time and a bestseller in the Daimler product portfolio. We expect to break our sales record again in 2015, which would make it the best Sprinter year of all time. And we will continue to successfully further develop the Sprinter in the coming years.”
Mercedes-Benz Sprinter achieves record sales
The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter is one of the bestsellers in its segment. Mercedes-Benz Vans sold over 186 000 Sprinter models worldwide in 2014 – an increase of twelve percent on the previous year and a new record. The Sprinter is continuing this success story in the current year: in the first six months of 2015, the vans business unit at Daimler delivered 89 500 Sprinter models to customers worldwide; four percent more than in the same period last year. Continuing high customer demand in Europe and the USA above all has ensured excellent utilisation of capacity at the German plants in Düsseldorf and Ludwigsfelde over the past months. To keep pace with this demand, the sites have introduced special shifts and Saturday working.
Volker Mornhinweg: “We continue to enjoy great momentum with our bestseller, and our full utilisation of capacity shows that our customers are thoroughly impressed with our Sprinter. Assisted by this tail wind, we will achieve record Sprinter sales once again in 2015.”
Reliable quality and consistent customer orientation as a recipe for success
When it launched the first Sprinter in 1995, Mercedes-Benz Vans had recognised the signs of the times and the needs of customers. High quality standards were established, both in development and in production. Revolutionary aspects right from the start included the dynamic design, well over 1000 basic variants, the efficient engines, exemplary safety equipment and the ergonomically perfect cockpit. This innovative concept, the outstanding product quality and satisfied customers ensured a successful start for the sophisticated van. Coupled with its high profile, the Sprinter thus gave its name to an entire vehicle category and is today synonymous with the segment for vans with a gross weight of up to five tonnes.
At the start of the nineties, the up-and-coming courier/express/parcel industry provided an added boost for sales of the new van generation as the Sprinter was able to cover the desired high annual mileages without any problems. In addition to reliable quality and cargo space, one further key aspect became a focal point of Sprinter development: driver-fitness safety. The interface between vehicle and driver was designed to be absolutely functional and boasted features that to date had only been available in passenger cars. The cockpit was systematically designed with the driver’s needs in mind and combined functionality and comfort in an all-new way.
Full capacity utilisation at Düsseldorf plant
The Düsseldorf plant plays a huge part in the success of the Sprinter. Over 65 percent of all Sprinter models are produced in the Rhineland. To keep pace with the high customer demand, the 6500 employees in Düsseldorf are currently working in special shifts and on Saturdays, producing over 725 vans per day.
The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter has been produced in Düsseldorf since 1995. Shortly after its launch, annual production broke the 100 000 van barrier for the first time in 1996, with record after record being broken ever since. Continuously further developed, the Düsseldorf plant started producing the second-generation Sprinter in 2006. And the new Sprinter has been rolling off the production lines since 2013. The economical and safe, functional and comfortable van is continuing the series of production records. Since Sprinter production began in Düsseldorf 20 years ago, some 2.4 million Sprinter models have left the factory in Düsseldorf.
Chassis produced in Ludwigsfelde since 2006
With the model changeover in 2006, another Sprinter production location was added in Germany to cope with the now considerably higher volume: chassis units and pickups have been produced at the Mercedes-Benz Ludwigsfelde plant to the south of Berlin since then. With around 2000 employees, the Ludwigsfelde plant is one of the largest industrial employers in Brandenburg. In 2014, production increased by 13 percent to over 48 200 units. And this positive trend is continuing in 2015, with capacity utilisation still at a very high level. Over 200 vans are produced every day.
Sprinter production in Buenos Aires
Sprinter production in South America began as early as 1996: the Sprinter has been produced in the Argentine capital Buenos Aires ever since. The original Sprinter and the new model have been leaving the production line here since 2007. Since 2012 the plant bearing the name of the legendary racing driver, “Centro Industrial Juan Manuel Fangio,” has concentrated on the current Sprinter generation. Around 1600 employees at the Argentine plant produce around 15 000 Sprinter models for customers in Latin America every year. Since the start of production in 1996, a total of around a quarter of a million Sprinter models have been produced in Buenos Aires.
China and Russia are also Sprinter production locations
Since 2011 the Sprinter has also been produced at the Fuzhou plant in China. At Fujian Benz Automotive Ltd., around 1600 employees produce three different Sprinter models with various body lengths and suitable seating configurations for the Chinese market. Customers looking for a reliable and safe passenger-transport vehicle can choose between 14, 17 or 20 seats, depending on their passenger-carrying requirements.
In 2013 the first-generation Sprinter experienced a renaissance in Russia: since then it has been produced as the “Sprinter Classic” in Nizhny Novgorod, 100 km to the east of Moscow. The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Classic is produced under licence by partner company GAZ. 2014 alone a record figure of 6700 vehicles was sold. This makes the Sprinter Classic the most popular Mercedes-Benz van in Russia and has catapulted Mercedes-Benz Vans to the title of best-selling international van brand in Russia.
The Sprinter is also very well received in North America. The introduction of the Sprinter here was the first time the European van concept had been seen in the USA and Canada. The North American customers were also quick to appreciate the new van product features for the market there: high payload, low fuel consumption and driving dynamics similar to those of a passenger car. The Sprinter concept thus quickly set a new standard in the competitive environment. From 2001 it has been assembled by the North American corporate brand Freightliner, which has marketed the Sprinter under its own name and with the Dodge brand logo. Since 2010 it has also been marketed as the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter in the USA, and fast became a success story. In 2014 it achieved a new sales record with 25 800 units sold. After Germany the USA is now the second-largest sales market for the Sprinter.
Global production strategy for the next-generation Sprinter
Mercedes-Benz Vans defined the long-term strategy for production of the Sprinter successor model at the end of 2014.
Volker Mornhinweg: “You can only produce a top vehicle like the Sprinter if you have a top team. And we have just such a top team: not only in Düsseldorf but also in Ludwigsfelde, González Catán, Fuzhou, Charleston and Nizhny Novgorod. For the next-generation Sprinter we are counting on Germany as a location with the Düsseldorf plant as a centre of competence.”
To this end, Mercedes-Benz Vans will be investing 450 million euros in the modernisation of both German plants. This funding will strengthen competitiveness over the long-term and ready the German plants for the global competition in this segment. At the Düsseldorf site alone, Mercedes-Benz Vans is spending 300 million euros on the modernisation of the bodyshop, paintshop and assembly facility. Over and above this, Düsseldorf will play even more of a central role in the Mercedes-Benz Vans global production network as a centre of competence for worldwide Sprinter production.
At the same time, the considerable sum of 150 million euros is being invested in the Ludwigsfelde plant to ensure that the site remains competitive over the long-term.
Furthermore, Mercedes-Benz will be producing the next generation of the successful model for the North American market directly in the USA. At the beginning of March 2015, Mercedes-Benz Vans chose Charleston in South Carolina as the location for the new plant. The US plant will allow Mercedes-Benz Vans to supply the ever-growing North American market far more economically in future. In addition to this, the growing demand among North American customers can be met far more quickly with vehicles “Made in USA”. In the coming years, around half a billion US dollars will be invested in the development of the new van plant. Covering a total area in excess of 800 000 sq. m, there will be an all-new bodyshop, a paintshop and an assembly facility. Construction of the new plant is set to start in 2016. The main reason behind the decision to construct a Sprinter plant in the USA is the high growth rate expected in the large vans segment of the North American market over the coming years. At the same time, high US import duties have until now resulted in a long and expensive process in which the Sprinter models for the US market produced in Germany have to be dismantled and reassembled in the USA.
Dieter Zetsche: “Our Sprinter is a supreme example of the growth strategy of the vans business unit at Daimler: we produce the Sprinter in an international production network, it is on the road in over 130 countries, and we are further improving our position in the important North American market with the future plant in Charleston.”
Comfortable, economical, efficient: the current Mercedes-Benz Sprinter
The Sprinter is the flagship Mercedes-Benz van model. The current model sets standards in the segment with exemplary safety, low fuel consumption and engines compliant with the future Euro VI emissions standard. With exceptionally low fuel consumption down to 6.1 l/100 km, it enjoys best-in-class status in this discipline. The current Sprinter boasts distinctive looks, excellent ride comfort and a neatly designed cockpit.
With Crosswind Assist as standard and optional safety systems such as Lane Keeping Assist, Blind Spot Assist, High Beam Assist and COLLISION PREVENTION ASSIST, the Sprinter offers customers a comprehensive package of safety technology.
A choice of diesel and petrol engines, manual and automatic transmissions, plus a wealth of body, weight and rear-axle variants – it all adds up to over 1000 basic variants. This shows that versatility is one of the great strengths of the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter.
10 September 2015