Reports that Mercedes would be removing its Metris van from the U.S. market emerged over the weekend, with the German automaker confirming the decision.
Despite carrying a larger price tag than the competition (starting around $35,000), the Metris often compares favorably from behind the wheel when the maximum cargo capacity and price aren't the chief concerns. Unfortunately, those tend to be very important items when people are shopping for working vehicles and the Metris' sales numbers have reflected that. Mercedes has struggled to reach 10,000 deliveries annually and the Metris volume is routinely bested by models like the smaller Ford Transit Connect or the ancient, full-size Chevrolet Express.
Believe it or not, there are plenty of people who spend the majority of their days in a van of some sort. I’m not talking about the beautiful people on social media hashtagging their rebranding of the Seventies-era shaggin’ wagon as “vanlife.” I’m talking about tradespeople, for whom a van is as important a tool as a hammer or pipe wrench.
For most of my working life, I’ve worked alongside these van drivers — I’ve been selling various products to these workers for the better part of two decades. I’ve noticed over the years that the variety of vans has expanded recently. Where the parking lot of whatever supply house was once filled with cookie cutter vans from the Detroit Three — occasionally dotted with repurposed minivans — these days any variety of tall, Euro-styled boxes-on-wheels might greet me.
The Sprinter was the leader of this new vanguard, with workers praising improved driving dynamics and improved space efficiency. Now a smaller model comes, the Mercedes-Benz Metris, to deliver much of those improvements in a more city-friendly package. Can this sturdier (not-so)minivan replace the stalwarts?
Mercedes-Benz has already announced its electric EQ range will see an EQC SUV as the first inductee to its automotive stable — followed by the EQS sedan, EQA hatchback, and the compact EQB crossover. It also plans to introduce its EQV Concept in Geneva later this year, a model which draws much of its inspiration from the Mercedes V-Class (known in North America as the Metris).
However, the standard V-Class is going through some changes of its own. Thanks to a mid-cycle refresh in Europe, the model will gain more standard safety tech, new hardware, and added luxury options for 2020. It also goes under the knife for some tasteful plastic surgery, bringing it in line with the rest of the automaker’s lineup.