Mercedes-Benz USA has discontinued selling its Sprinter van through Dodge dealerships and will instead make them available through Mercedes-Benz and Freightliner dealers beginning in January, according to a report in Automotive News.
The Sprinter van and cab chassis are popular platforms for Class B and C motorhomes. Mercedes-Benz has always required RV OEMs to obtain their Sprinter bodies through retail dealerships. Until now, that has been either Dodge or Freightliner stores.
But in September, Daimler AG pulled the Sprinter from the Dodge lineup and moved the diesel-powered, high-mileage van to Mercedes, according to Automotive News.
Executives at Leisure Travel Vans Ltd., Morden, Manitoba, which has built camper vans on Freightliner-badged Sprinters in the U.S. and Dodge-badged units in Canada, said the move in a positive one.
”We are in conversations with the new Sprinter division contacts,” Ryan Elias, Leisure Travel assistant general manager, told RVBUSINESS.com. ”We are told that deliveries will be quicker and that communications will be better. That’s very, very encouraging to hear.”
Elias said ”most likely” Leisure Travel Vans will switch all its production to Mercedes-badged Sprinters because of the Mercedes cache.
According to Automotive News, in October, Mercedes invited about 120 of its dealers and 45 Freightliner dealers who sell the Sprinter to a meeting in Denver to discuss plans for the vehicle. Freightliner Trucks is a division of Daimler Trucks North America LLC.
Dealers had only a couple of weeks to accept Mercedes’ offer to sell the Mercedes-badged Sprinters. Near the deadline, 100 Mercedes dealers and 43 Freightliner dealers agreed.
Ernst Lieb, Mercedes-Benz USA CEO, said that Mercedes dealers chosen to sell the Springer are ”a healthy mix” of urban and rural stores.
Mercedes looked at dealers in regions with high Sprinter sales over the past decade and then chose those that could sell more than 30 van annually.
At the Denver meeting, Lieb said, ”We gave them an overview of the product and how we are planning to sell it and what will be required in terms of inventory.”
Dodge dealers began selling the Dodge-badge Sprinter in the U.S. in 2003. In 2008, 350 Dodge dealers sold 14,600 Sprinters. Including Freightliner-badged vans, 2008 sales were 18,282.
The Sprinter will be sold through the newly created Daimler Vans USA, based in New Jersey at Mercedes’ U.S. headquarters.