Daimler announced that production of the next-generation Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van will be done in North America, as it tries to improve competitiveness by shifting output from its home turf Germany. Daimler ships Sprinter kits from Germany to Ladson, South Carolina, where the van will be assembled.
Volker Mornhinweg, head of the Mercedes' vans division, said in a statement, that the company can cater better to the growing demand for large vans in North America economically only if it builds them locally in the NAFTA region. He remarked that Daimler will decide on the exact site for the Sprinter’s production in the NAFTA region in the next few months.
Due to high import tariffs, Daimler has been building US-bound Sprinters in Duesseldorf and Ludwigsfelde, both in Germany. The vans are partially disassembled in Germany and then reassembled in Ladson – a time-consuming process.
According to Daimler, this results in a significant competitive disadvantage as it means longer delivery times as well as more expensive vehicles. Daimler sold 23,000 Sprinter vans in 2013 in the US, which is now the van’s second-largest market after Germany.
Daimler, however, will still produce Sprinters vans in Duesseldorf and Ludwigsfelde and will make a EUR450-million investment to build the next generation at the two locations.
The amount will include a modernization of the body shop, paint shop, and assembly line at Daimler’s Duesseldorf site, which currently builds 150,000 large vans annually. Ludwigsfelde builds around 50,000 large vans annually.
Daimler is currently revamping its light commercial vehicle business after the end of collaboration with fellow German carmaker Volkswagen.