The Battle Of The Euro-Van: Ford And Ram To Take On Sprinter

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

Daimler’s Sprinter Van has been available in the US for ten years now, but thanks to high prices, inconsistent brand strategy (it’s been marketed as a Freightliner, Dodge, and now Mercedes), and some curious marketing choices, it’s never made a huge impact on the market. And with Ram announcing that it will bring Sprinter-sized Ducato vans to the US, it seems like a good time to reflect on the words of Paul Niedermeyer, who wrote back in early 2010

Yes, I can muster some appreciation of Econolines of yore. But the painful reality is that the current E-Series is an ugly, primitive and inefficient pig virtually unchanged since 1974. The fact that the American light truck sector hasn’t had the same revolution that European design influences have had on passenger cars is a mystery. Case in point: Ford’s Transit (not Connect) vans are a (several, actually) giant development leap ahead of the Econoline, offering FWD, RWD and AWD variants in three wheelbase lengths, numerous configurations, and driven by the most advanced diesels that can get well over 20 mpg. The Transit outsells Mercedes Sprinter in Europe. What the hell is Ford waiting for?

According to C&D, Ford was just waiting for the new Escape to go into production in Louisville, in order to free up production of the Transit at Kansas City. Apparently Ford has even filed trademark applications for a number of “T-Series” names, so expect a full line of Transit vans to replace the decrepit Econolines. And with three offerings in the large commercial van segment instead of just one, expect more choices, more competition, more marketing, and a general van renaissance in the US. At a time when minivans have become so unloved they’ve given rise to the now-ubiquitous crossover, it’s nice to see that the van make something of a comeback.


Edward Niedermeyer
Edward Niedermeyer

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  • Mopar4wd Mopar4wd on Oct 07, 2011

    I see quite a few sprinters here (CT) almost getting to be as common as Econolines. I have seen two NV's in the wild plus one Nissan dealer parts runner. I'd say more competition for the sprinter will be great.

  • Greg1970 Greg1970 on Jan 05, 2012

    I'd agree that the Sprinter could use some competition, but the positive comments here about Sprinters are from those who've driven one! For us in Colorado, our turbodiesel Sprinter RV gets about 20mpg, not slower than 60mph even over steep mountain passes, and 6'4" interior height inside, plenty of room for an RV conversion. New Sprinter RVs are expensive, but used Sprinter vans can be converted to Sprinter campervans (for example, http://www.sprinter-rv.com/diy-gallery/). Anyway, let's hope for the Fiat Ducato, Peugeot Boxer, and Ford Transit vans to arrive in North America, and may the best van win!

  • MaintenanceCosts Looks like the best combination of capability, interior comfort, and subtle appearance can be achieved by taking a Laramie (crew cab, short bed, 4x4 of course) and equipping it with the Sport Appearance, Towing Technology, and Level 2 packages as well as a few standalone options. That's my pick.Rebel is too CRUSH THAT CAN BRO and Limited and up are too cowboy Cadillac.
  • Xidex easier to buy a mustang that already sounds like that. love the coyote growl
  • Oberkanone Shaker motor on an EV. No thanks.
  • Oberkanone Crew Cab 6'4" box, 4x4, BighornInterested in midsize truck from Ram. Our fleet includes fullsize truck as well as Maverick compact and something midsize could replace both. Ram is 1st choice of the current full size offerings, with Ford in 2nd place.
  • EBFlex Nice truck, but it needs a proper engine.
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