Ford sold 8,834 Transit Connects in 2009, with sales of the small, Euro-style panel and passenger vans hitting 27,405 units last year. With 9,852 already sold in the first third of 2011, it seems the original German delivery van-slingers in the US market, Mercedes, are taking notice of the segment. The Dodge-branded Sprinter, a larger vehicle, saw peak sales of 21,961 back in 2006 has seen sales fall dramatically in recent years, and in 2010 Mercedes wrestled the vans back to its brand, only to sell a meager 8,599 (a nearly 1,500 unit improvement over Dodge’s last year with the product). In other words, the lesson of recent US-market Euro-style delivery vans seems to be that bigger (i.e. more direct competition with American BOF offerings) is not better.
In any case, that’s the lesson Mercedes seems to have moved, as Autoblog‘s Chris Paukert hears that Mercedes is studying the possibility of bringing its smaller Vito van to the US. And they won’t have to bring it far, as the Vito is built in Mexico (among other parts globalized). And if a $35k base-price Sprinter costs about $50k in Mexico, the $30k-ish base-price Vito (with 150 HP diesel, the only option in Mexico) could end up priced fairly close the Transit’s $22k+ range.
Will more space, a three-pointed star on the hood (did we mention the RWD?), possible diesel engines (a 3.5 liter, 250 HP gas V6 is also a likely candidate) and (Daimler willing) a sane price tempt the unexpectedly-strong smaller Euro-van market away from Ford dealers? Would you be ready to look at a Vito?