Mercedes-Benz to build van plant in U.S.

Rolf Lockwood

2015 Sprinter in 4x4 trimCharleston, SC – Mercedes-Benz Vans plans to invest half a billion dollars to build a new van plant in Charleston, SC. The facility will supply the North American market with the next-generation Sprinter and will create 1300 jobs, making the company one of the region’s biggest industrial employers. Construction will begin in 2016.

The Mercedes division also introduced the Metris series of medium-sized vans this past week at The Work Truck Show in Indianapolis. It will be available beginning in the fall this year, but will not be built in the U.S. The Metris is a version of the company’s Vito van seen in Europe and elsewhere. It’s been “especially adapted“ to the North American market.

The new Sprinter plant is essential, Mercedes says, because the large van segment is expected to grow rapidly in North America over the next few years and is already one of the most dynamic van markets in the world. At the same time, the cost equation doesn’t favor Mercedes-Benz. It faces high import duties and a complex disassembly/re-assembly process with Sprinters made in Germany and then offered for sale in the U.S. Building vans here will enable the company to meet growing North American demand much more cost-efficiently while considerably reducing delivery times as well.

First introduced in 1995, toNorth America in 2001, the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter has been a success story, with more than 2.8 million delivered in 130 countries worldwide. This makes the Sprinter a key pillar of the division’s “Vans goes global” growth strategy, which aims to expand the business of worldwide and exploit additional sales potential in growth markets outside Europe. The U.S. is the company’s second largest sales market after Germany. 

Rolf Lockwood

Rolf Lockwood is editor emeritus of Today's Trucking and a regular contributor to Trucknews.com.

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