Daimler AG showed the first sketch of its upcoming next-generation Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van on Sunday during a kickoff event at the North American Commercial Vehicle Show in Atlanta.
The illustration provides the first uncovered look at the new large van, which will launch in Europe in the first half of 2018. Other markets, including the U.S., will follow.
“We want to offer the most suitable mobility solution for every sector and for every transport assignment,” said Volker Mornhinweg, head of Mercedes-Benz Vans. “And that is precisely our focus with the upcoming Sprinter generation as an overall system solution.”
The new vehicle will include automated driving assistance systems and connectivity services in combination with new telematics, which Daimler said will improve efficiency for vehicle and fleet management.
The Sprinter van is a leading contender in the commercial work van segment, however in recent years the van has developed a following among lifestyle buyers who use the Sprinter to pursue their passions. Some even live in the vehicle, full-time.
Interest is high in the next-generation 2019 Sprinter van. Prototypes have been spotted while testing in Germany, showing subtle design cues that align with the sketch shown in Atlanta. Photos of the interior show a futuristic look with large air conditioning vents and modernized instrument displays.
There even appear to be paddle shifters affixed to the steering wheel.
The U.S. is now the second largest market for large van sales, trailing only Germany. More than 242,000 large vans were sold during the first eight months of 2017, a decrease of 2.6 percent compared to the same period in 2016, according to industry research firm Autodata Corp.
In order to reduce delivery times in the U.S., Daimler is building a new plant in North Charleston, S.C., that will produce the next-generation Sprinter.
Currently, Sprinter vans are built in Germany. However, due an old tariff known as the chicken tax, Mercedes removes the drivetrain and other mechanical components before shipping them to Ladson, S.C., for reassembly.
Otherwise, the cargo vans would be slapped with the 25 percent tariff.
Building the vans on U.S. soil will allow Mercedes to avoid the tariff as well as added cost and time during the painstaking reassembly. The process adds an estimated $1,000 to the price of each Sprinter currently sold, according to Dave Sullivan, manager of product analysis at AutoPacific.