Mercedes‑Benz have lifted the covers off their latest generation Sprinter model. With the new edition of the bestseller, Mercedes‑Benz Vans now marks the start of the digital age in this vehicle segment. As the first fully connected integral system solution, the third generation of the Sprinter demonstrates the development of the division from purely a vehicle manufacturer into a provider of complete transport and mobility solutions. With new connectivity services, electric drive and individual hardware solutions for the cargo space, the large van will make customers’ business in a connected world significantly more efficient.
Dr. Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes‑Benz Cars, Wilfried Porth, Member of the Board of Management for Human Resources and Director of Labor Relations & Mercedes‑Benz Vans of Daimler AG, and Volker Mornhinweg, Head of Mercedes‑Benz Vans, presented the new flagship van of the brand bearing the three‑pointed star to approximately 250 international journalists at a logistics center in Duisburg docks.
Investment of approximately 2.5 billion euros
Dieter Zetsche: “More than 20 years ago, the Sprinter established the segment that bears its name today. Since then, it has set new benchmarks for large vans through innovation time and again. No wonder it’s one of the bestsellers in Daimler’s portfolio.”
“We are investing some €2.5 billion around the globe in the new Sprinter’s development, its worldwide production network, and sales and after-sales,” stated Dieter Zetsche.
The current model of the Sprinter has been on the market since 2006. The new Sprinter is available for order now and will be launched in the European market starting in June 2018. The addition of an entry-level version with front-wheel drive means that the new Sprinter offers every customer a model tailored precisely to his or her needs.
First fully connected integral system solution
Volker Mornhinweg: “As a world van, the Sprinter is on the roads in over 130 countries and has now been sold more than 3.4 million times. It has also fully lived up to its reputation as a bestseller in its last year of the current model: In total, we sold about 200,500 Sprinter vans worldwide in 2017 – more than ever before.”
“Our new Sprinter is the first van of a new type – a fully connected integral system solution. We have made it even better with regard to its traditional strengths and have supplemented it with intelligent products and services. This makes the Sprinter an integral part of the value chain. So we are unlocking a new dimension in terms of efficiency, flexibility, connectivity and profitability for our customers. And we are doing it precisely tailored to each particular industry,” Mornhinweg added.
Numerous additional variants serve every new customer’s needs
The Sprinter is already used in a diverse range of industries today: in classic courier services on the last delivery mile, and there increasingly to deliver fresh foods (“e-grocery”), in private and public passenger transport, as a camper van, as a mobile workshop in various trades, as well as in construction transport, but also as a rolling parts warehouse for service technicians.
Social and economic developments, especially urbanisation and the growth of online retailing, are rapidly changing the needs of van customers. Growing transportation needs will have to be met even faster and more efficiently in the future and, above all, in an environmentally friendly way. Mercedes-Benz Vans is responding to these new requirements in many ways. For example, the service sector is one of the comparatively traditional industries where pressure to change has now also arrived. Connectivity solutions in particular are creating opportunities for optimisation or are even positively influencing the business case. One example in this regard is so-called “in-van delivery”, which allows service providers to restock the vehicle overnight with parts ordered directly from within the vehicle.
The new Sprinter therefore offers customers in a diverse range of industries more specific possible applications than ever before. It comes in more than 1,700 variants – depending on body type, drive system, cab design, body length, payload, cargo-space height and equipment versions. The variety of seats offered ranges from two individual seats in the cab of a commercially used vehicle to up to 20 seats for 19 passengers plus driver. Maximum cargo volume is 17 cubic meters, with payloads of up to 5.5 metric tons.
Electrification of the commercial fleet: eSprinter to follow in 2019
In addition to the systematic further development of its highly efficient diesel engines, Mercedes-Benz Vans will in the future also offer locally emission-free electric drive in all segments and will push forward with the electrification of the commercial fleet. A start has been made with the eVito, which has been available for order since November 2017 with deliveries starting in the second half of 2018. The eVito will be followed by the eSprinter in 2019. In dialogue between customers and the experts of Mercedes-Benz Vans, operator concepts are individually tailored to industry requirements, fleet size, driving profile to the architectural conditions for establishing a proprietary charging infrastructure on a company’s premises, thus creating a comprehensive ecosystem. In addition, basic electric vehicles can be precisely adapted to the particular intended purpose in terms of range or payload. With regard to operating costs, the electric vans are on par with comparable models powered by a diesel engine. The electric models are primarily designed for operations in city centers.
Tapping additional potential in the growing camper van market
Mercedes-Benz Vans is expanding its strong position in the growth market of camper vans with the new Sprinter. The new model will be available for the first time also with front-wheel drive to meet demand in this segment even better. As a result of the new design, the possible payload of this variant has been improved. A lower floor makes getting in and out of the living and sleeping area of camper vans – but also the loading and unloading of commercially used vehicles – considerably more convenient. In addition, Mercedes-Benz Vans now offers the new Sprinter on this basis also as a tractor head, where the powertrain, fuel tank and all other major components are located in front of or under the cab. This gives bodybuilders completely free rein to design the rear vehicle section and further increases the possible applications of the new Sprinter. The new tractor head in the class with a gross vehicle weight rating of up to 5.5 metric tons creates additional leeway for the development of new concepts in the field of high-quality and high-comfort camper vans.
Fully connected, the new Sprinter turns the camper van into a smart home on wheels
In the camper van variant, the new Sprinter with new digital control possibilities turns into a fully connected smart home on wheels – and thereby into a true “smart camper.” In the future, a new interface module will create the basis for intelligently connecting the basic vehicle with the camper body and its functions. This will enable all the camper van functions to be controlled from one place – via the infotainment system or by smartphone. The Mercedes-Benz Camper App will then allow access to the vehicle from anywhere in the world. This will enable for example the heating to be switched on in advance after a day on the ski slopes, so that the camper van can welcome the family with pleasant temperatures. The vehicle and living area will combine to form a smart unit that has no equal in the camper van market.
Mercedes PRO connect links fleet managers with vehicles and drivers
Two combined digital systems make the new Sprinter fit for every conceivable logistics and transport requirement in a connected world.
On the one hand, the new Sprinter is equipped with Mercedes PRO connect, a connectivity system for fleet customers from micro-enterprises to key account customers. The web-based service links fleet managers with all vehicles and drivers in the fleet via the Vehicle Management Tool. At the market launch of Mercedes PRO connect as an ex-factory solution, eight packages will be introduced with central fleet, vehicle, driver and location-based services. These will include for example Vehicle Supervision, Vehicle Operations, Fleet Communication, Maintenance and Repair Management and a digital Driver’s Logbook. Vehicle Supervision displays all relevant vehicle data as well as the usage of the vehicle over a defined period. Vehicle Operations includes accessing the location of vehicles almost in real time or providing information about when a vehicle enters or leaves a defined area (geofencing). Sending messages, addresses or contact details between the Vehicle Management Tool and the Mercedes PRO connect app improves fleet communication, while information about upcoming vehicle servicing facilitates maintenance management. Moreover, dynamic route guidance ensures significant advantages over static route planning in advance of a delivery tour.
MBUX multimedia system with touchscreen and voice control
Furthermore, the new MBUX multimedia system (Mercedes-Benz User Experience) is available in the new Sprinter. It was presented at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas in early January. The system also provides the access to Mercedes PRO connect. Thanks to artificial intelligence, the system is capable of learning, has a 10.25-inch display with HD resolution, and is controlled either with touch-enabled steering wheel controls, the touchscreen, or an all-new voice control system. It offers the driver maximum convenience to allow him to focus on his actual task.
Assistance and safety systems on passenger car level
Despite their relatively large dimensions, commercially used vehicles must remain controllable even in critical situations. With the new Sprinter, many optional safety and assistance systems are now available from Mercedes-Benz Vans that were previously the preserve of the passenger car series. These include the radar-based distance control system Distronic, Active Brake Assist, Active Lane Keeping Assist and Attention Assist. The optional Parking package with 360-degree camera makes another important contribution to relieving driver workload. If the optional Blind Spot Assist is on board in addition to the Parking package, this recognises traffic and pedestrians crossing behind the vehicle and can also brake autonomously in an emergency. Crosswind Assist is of course also on board as standard, as it makes van journeys considerably safer, especially at higher speeds and on motorways for example. Traffic Sign Assist draws additional attention to speed limits, no-entry and no-overtaking restrictions and their cancellation.
Comfort and ergonomics at the driver’s workplace
Driver and co-driver must be able to perform their duties efficiently and consistently. As an optional extra, there is no need to search for the key when entering the new Sprinter, as the vehicle can be started with the start/stop button. Optimised climate control systems ensure pleasant interior temperatures. Newly designed seats can be adapted precisely to the driver’s individual requirements and thereby allow an ergonomically favorable posture also on longer journeys.
New Sprinter embodies the adVANce future initiative
The new Sprinter embodies the adVANce future initiative of Mercedes-Benz Vans. It reflects the strategic realignment from a pure vehicle manufacturer into a provider of complete mobility solutions. The key elements to cater for customers’ diverse needs in the commercial transport sector are tailored solutions that help to increase efficiency and productivity throughout the value chain. The new Sprinter is the first Mercedes-Benz vehicle to make adVANce solutions tangible in practice. The van division concentrates on five areas of innovation that will be crucial for future success in the transport and logistical sector: In the area of connectivity and Internet of Things (IoT) applications, the goal is optimum integration of a wide range of digital technologies into the vehicles of Mercedes-Benz Vans (DIGITAL@VANS). The aim of innovative hardware solutions (SOLUTIONS@VANS) is continuous improvement of cargo space and logistics, and adaptation to changing expectations in the transport sector. Mercedes-Benz Van Rental is the first time a brand has concentrated solely on renting out vans (RENTAL@VANS). One initial example of the development of innovative sharing services is the joint venture with the US start-up Via (SHARING@VANS). The eDRIVE@VANS innovation field is about the electrification of the powertrain.
High investment in German and worldwide production locations
In preparation for the new Sprinter generation, Mercedes-Benz Vans has made significant investments in its worldwide production network. A total of 450 million euros is being invested in the lead plant of worldwide Sprinter production in Düsseldorf and in the Sprinter plant in Ludwigsfelde, Brandenburg. This makes Mercedes-Benz Vans the only manufacturer in the segment of large vans that continues to produce also in Germany. Mercedes-Benz Vans is also investing 150 million US dollars for the new Sprinter at the Argentinian site in González Catán near Buenos Aires. In addition, Mercedes-Benz Vans is building a new full production facility for the Sprinter in the United States as an expansion of the existing assembly plant for vans. Mercedes-Benz Vans is investing some 500 million US dollars in this new facility in North Charleston, South Carolina, with completion and start of production scheduled for the second half of 2018. Worldwide start of production of the new Sprinter will be in Germany in early March.
Connected production technologies for the connected Sprinter
With start of production of the new Sprinter, Mercedes-Benz Vans is putting new connected production technologies into series application. The reasons behind this move are the increasing requirements on production operations with regard to flexibility and efficiency, due in particular to the increased variant diversity of the new Sprinter. One example for the Düsseldorf plant is the so-called “paperless factory,” which applies state-of-the-art digital communication – including by touchscreen – in production operations. The plant in Ludwigsfelde relies on, among other things, RFID technology (radio-frequency identification), which locates and identifies parts automatically and contactlessly by radio.
The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter will be launched in South Africa in the first quarter of 2019