By on August 27, 2019

Despite vans being slightly more popular than getting a thumb in the eye, Mercedes-Benz is sticking with them. Earlier in the month, the automaker revealed the production version of its 252-mile (we’ll see) EQV. Essentially an electrified version of the plush V-Class/Metris, the model will likely serve a very specific subset of the population.

On the other end of the spectrum, Daimler has been mulling over what should be done about the Citan. As the smallest van in MB’s range, the Citan also has the lowest point of entry. However, sales are roughly one-sixth what the V-Class sees in Europe, making it a plausible candidate for discontinuation. But it was not to be. On Friday, Daimler announced it will keep its smallest MPV on the table. 

“The new Citan will undergo a comprehensive new development and clearly be recognisable [sic] as a Mercedes-Benz at first glance. We will provide for a distinctive brand-adequate identity in the successor of our small van,” explained Marcus Breitschwerdt, head of Mercedes-Benz Vans.

If the phrase “brand-adequate identity” left you flummoxed, we’ll explain. The current Citan is technically a rebadged Renault Kangoo II. The duo even share an assembly line in France. Breitschwerdt’s wording is a reminder that this will carry over when it comes time to build a successor.

Is it wise? Well, Daimler has already received some criticism that the Citan doesn’t improve on the Kangoo enough to warrant its substantially higher price tag — something that’s reflected in Renault’s larger sales numbers. Other rebadged vehicles from the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance have also bitten MB in the past. Reengineering Nissan’s Navara into the Mercedes-Benz X-Class pickup was clearly a mistake. Despite putting quite a bit behind the model’s launch, the truck has been underperforming and is reportedly being considered for termination. There are even rumors that Mercedes’ leadership plans on dissolving the partnership by simply not renewing commitments.

That places an asterisk beside the next-gen Citan’s product announcement. If Daimler seriously wants it built, it may have to buy more time with Renault. But the only upside we see from the partnership is more jobs for Nissan’s powertrain plant in Decherd, Tennessee and Mercedes getting a steady supply of entry-level motors… many of which are too small to be a hit in North America. The Citan isn’t likely to grace our shores, either.

That makes the story here less about getting you throttled up for a van you’ll probably never consider buying and more about assessing Mercedes-Benz Vans’ current business strategy. Daimler is positioning itself for some hefty restructuring, with layoffs estimated to surpass 10,000. That makes it slightly odd to see the brand announce a new model with ties to Renault when a core aspect of the plan was rumored to involve cutting those business ties.

It’s a tad confusing. But Mercedes claims the new Citan is en route, so we’ll stick with that for now. Renault’s Kangaroo III is believed to enter production late in 2020, meaning we probably have until then to see if Daimler changes its mind. Details on the vehicles are minimal, with the only confirmation being both vans will come with (small) internal-combustion powertrains and at least one electrified variant.

[Image: Daimler AG]

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16 Comments on “More Van News From Mercedes-Benz...”


  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    Wow, it’s homely. Especially the flush rear quarter window versus the non-flush front and sliding door windows. And the overall boring, blobby shape.

  • avatar
    ravenuer

    Wonder what its “clown capacity” is?

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      Here’s the idea:
      https://youtu.be/zItJedEZB8M

      Except with music and a stage show, and clowns dancing — instead of semi-stoic Russian dudes.

      P.S. Watch the rear suspension of the car in the video to see when they get under the car’s practical gross weight limit.

  • avatar
    PeriSoft

    Mein augen! That thing almost makes a Multipla look svelte.

    Almost.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    It’s a rebadged Renault Kangoo. You see them all over France where they are popular with tradesmen and retailers.

  • avatar
    darex

    “Recognise” is a legitimate way to spell the word, or is that news to you?

  • avatar
    Ce he sin

    “The new Citan will undergo a comprehensive new development and clearly be recognisable [sic] as a Mercedes-Benz at first glance”
    Yes, recognisable. It means having the capacity to be recognised. Is the writer unfamiliar with English?

  • avatar
    jkross22

    It’s a TransitConnect that sat in the sun too long.

  • avatar
    ThomasSchiffer

    The Citan is mainly sold to businesses which already make use of other Mercedes-Benz products such as the Sprinter, Vito, Axor, Actros, Econic and so forth. All of these vehicles can be easily serviced at the next Mercedes-Benz dealership which makes this an easier affair than if the business had bought the Renault Kangoo on which this is based.

    My brother runs a taxi business and I believe has one or two Citans in his fleet which have been converted to handle disabled customers and their wheelchairs. Along with the V-Klasse/Vito, that is a good purpose for these cars.

    • 0 avatar

      Thomas, is it expensive to service compared with Renault?

      • 0 avatar
        ThomasSchiffer

        Yes, generally a Mercedes-Benz dealership has higher per hour servicing costs and their spare parts tend to be ‘overpriced.’ When my 2007 GL320 CDI 4Matic was last serviced at Mercedes-Benz of Munich they charged me 75 Euros per hour on servicing costs. The servicing and replacement of worn parts took three hours (new brake pads, new air filter and so forth). But the car runs great and is very dependable so I am not complaining.

        I happen to own a beater 1992 Renault Twingo (my cheap get-around city car, I am the fourth owner), but I don’t have it serviced at a Renault dealership. A ‘cheaper’ mechanic does the work on this car. A typical Renault dealership will charge less per hour and less on the parts, but I don’t know the exact figures. But as a rule of thumb, brands like Renault, Fiat, Citroën, Peugeot and some of the Japanese/Korean brands will charge less than the German brands for servicing. Skoda and Seat are owned by Volkswagen and their servicing costs are slightly cheaper than Volkswagen, but more expensive than Renault and the likes.

        In the case of the Citan and other commercial vehicles from Mercedes-Benz, companies that use them get a discount when purchasing them and when it comes to servicing. The Citan in taxi form has a price decrease of 15% if my memory has not failed me. Servicing costs are also subsidized a small percentage by Mercedes-Benz if I am not mistaken. I have to ask him.

        • 0 avatar

          Still Citan is made by Renault and so not as durable as German brand. Why to buy Citan over Ford e.g. or VW?

          • 0 avatar
            ThomasSchiffer

            @Inside,

            The Citan is made in France is memory serves me right. Renault actually makes very good cars nowadays.

            The reason to get a Citan over a Ford, VW and so forth is because of the ease of servicing if you have a Mercedes-Benz fleet, and commercial customers get discounts. The Citan also offers some features which you cannot get on a Renault Kangoo.

  • avatar
    HotPotato

    I realize that North America has spat out every small passenger MPV that the world has tried to bless it with. But I’d like to be one of the five weirdos in America who’d buy a Renault Kangoo with a highly improbable three-pointed star on the snoot.


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