Are You Ready For: A Smaller Sprinter?

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

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?

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4 of 46 comments
  • Yeahbeer Yeahbeer on May 24, 2011

    Sounds like a good little truck cant wait to see it!

  • PrincipalDan PrincipalDan on May 24, 2011

    So how much for the "conversion van" model? My fiance has seen the "converted" Transit Connects and actually likes them.

  • Windnsea00 Windnsea00 on May 27, 2011

    Our 2007 Sprinter V6 diesel 170 WB. high roof has been super reliable, just about to crack 300k miles. These are mainly freeway miles for what it is worth but I was even a bit skeptical about its longevity compared to Chevy or Ford. We needed the extra room compared to the US cargo vans so we would have had to get a small box truck from Ford or GM that would have guzzled fuel at ~11 mpg compared to our ~20 mpg average. Tires have lasted typically 75k+ a set for us but I know the freeway driving is much easier than in town delivery for such. We have the 250k mile service package pre-paid so it goes in every 10k mile for services. Driving wise and comfort is not even comparable to the Ford or GM, the engine and transmission are like butter!

  • Polak Polak on Dec 01, 2011

    I believe that I can put two of your Sprinter alternatives inside of my 2011 170"EXT Sprinter. If you need to be competitive on todays market then there is no other option than 170" EXT Sprinter. Mercedes Sprinter. That's my 1 cent.