Sprinter Returns to the Mercedes Fold

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

One of the lingering holdovers from the Daimler-Chrysler era, Sprinters at the Dodge dealer, is coming to an end. Automotive News [sub] reports that the commercial/recreational vans will be yanked from Dodge dealerships starting January 1, and will be sold at 150 select Mercedes dealers going forward. 45 Freightliner dealers will continue to sell Sprinters under the Freightliner brand, but all remaining Sprinters will be sold as Mercedes models under the new distribution plan. Which begs the question: why?

Unlike in Europe, where its premium appeal is less important, Mercedes doesn’t sell any comparably utilitarian vehicles in the US. And it’s not like anyone will be steered to the Sprinter area (which must not be on the showroom floor) when they come in to check out R-class vans or other premium US-market Merc confections. Sprinter sales have finally clawed their way up to the 20k/year level before Carpocalypse hit, but it’s hard to see them growing much farther surrounded, as they will be, by $40K-$80K luxo-whips.

Edward Niedermeyer
Edward Niedermeyer

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  • Jeff Puthuff Jeff Puthuff on Sep 03, 2009

    Makes sense. With what plumbers, HVAC techs and other tradesmen charge, they can well afford an E- or S-Class. Sell them a work truck and they'll come back for the family car. Or something.

  • SLLTTAC SLLTTAC on Sep 04, 2009

    My company has four Sprinters, which the guys prefer to our Chevy and Ford vans. We plan to buy more Sprinters next year, even though they cost more up front than a Chevy or Ford. Down the road, they cost less to operate and they're more comfortable and utilitarian, too. But I wouldn't buy a Mercedes car.

  • TRL TRL on Sep 08, 2009

    Just got back from 9 days in Europe on vaca. Must have seen a hundred UPS Spinters in Switzerland, Austria and Germany. They probably are not paying anything near the equivalent of $38k. Here, at $10 - $15k less, I suspect Ford makes a ton of profit on the existing Econoline as development work really stopped some time around 1990. Should sales ever really slide the real Transit could fix that. Driving a slower than a slug ergonomically awful Hertz 5 door B class and looking at all the Sprinters really made me appreciate just how good/bad a job Mercedes does with their high priced US market approach.

  • Anonymous Anonymous on Sep 09, 2009

    May I clarify a few points? Freightliner no longer builds Argosy for the US market. When the new emission standards kicked in a few years back, the numbers didn't justify the cost to re-engineer the truck for larger cooling abilities that the Cat Converter would require. It is only built for export now. Sprinter should never have left Freightliner. Freightliner dealerships are commercial facilities most of which are open 24 hours a day. This makes it more suitable to address the commercial user's applications. Drop it off Friday night and it's ready Sunday night. Back on the job Monday. I introduced Sprinter into a major market area while I was with a Freightliner dealership. When Dodge began selling them, we started getting Dodge branded Sprinters in for simple issues that the Dodge boys couldn't handle. One dealer would have them flatbedded over to us if they couldn't solve an issue under one hour. The low volume apparently didn't justify the cost of the Star diagnostics or the training required. Freightliner dealerships' techs constantly undergo training to keep up with everchanging technology. Initially Dodge's involvement cost us a few sales, but in the end they drove clients to us. Although I think the level of tech training at a MB dealer would be great, but I can't imagine an MB dealer opening a Commercial Only Department.