Mercedes-Benz has revealed the Sprinter Caravan cut-away “concept”, a vehicle that will be showcased at the Caravan Salon in Dusseldorf, Germany until Sept. 8, according to a report by Autoevolution.com.
Based on a new high-roof Sprinter van, the Caravan concept features a living area with front white leather seats that can be turned around and a spacious side-facing bench seat which can be pulled out into a double bed. The interior also includes a kitchen and a bathroom with integrated wardrobe.
In addition, the van was equipped with a grey laminate floor, Alcantara roof, LED lights, a flat screen TV, a stove, and a refrigerator. The whole interior can be accessed via the vehicle’s right-hand side which can be completely opened from the middle of the front passenger door to the rear axle.
Not a concept car in the true sense, the Sprinter Caravan doesn’t preview a concept car, but we imagine that such the interior can be ordered from several coachbuilders.
The Sprinter Caravan is not the only vehicle Mercedes-Benz is displaying at Dusseldorf, the cut-away van being joined by the Viano Marco Polo, Viano Fun and other camper van platform on Actros and Zetros trucks.
When Daimler AG, the maker of Mercedes-Benz luxury cars and former owner of Chrysler, brought its Euro-styled Sprinter van with a 14-foot high roof and sloped brow to the U.S., it stood out on the parkway like a pachyderm.
As reported by Bloomberg, a dozen years later, the commercial-van market has embraced the look. Traditional, big vans, such as General Motors Co.’s Chevy Express and Ford Motor Co.’s Econoline, are starting to fade from the scene as stricter fuel-efficiency standards are prodding a convergence around a more aerodynamic, European look.
“Guess what? The world has changed,” Claus Tritt, who heads Daimler’s U.S. commercial-van business, said in an interview. “We are no longer the oddball.”
Automakers, including Daimler, Ford and Chrysler Group LLC, are all bringing new, large, fuel-sipping work vans to the U.S. as they gear up for a boom in the highly profitable segment. The surge is fueled by new-home construction and an improving economy, the same forces helping make 2013 the year of the pickup, said Tritt. The platform has also been embraced by the RV market, particularly builders of Class B motorhomes.
The new vans tend to have straighter sides and taller roofs than traditional ones that looked more like bulked up minivans. With their improved fuel efficiency and utility, they complement the U.S. automakers’ best lineup from top to bottom in a generation.
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Sales of Sprinter vans increased 94% for calendar year 2011, according to a press release from Mercedes-Benz. In only its second year of operation, Daimler Vans USA and its combined network of both Mercedes-Benz and Freightliner Sprinter dealers achieved a total of 16,577 vans sold, far surpassing the 2010 result of 8,559. The Mercedes-Benz network alone saw an increase of 172%.
“Our strong, diverse network of 185 Mercedes-Benz and Freightliner commercial van dealers spread across the U.S. has enjoyed a banner year of Sprinter van sales. From large fleet operators to small construction businesses and mom-and-pop food trucks, American consumers are discovering the incredible benefits of Sprinter vans,” said Claus Tritt, general manager of commercial vans for Mercedes-Benz USA.
The Sprinter platform has also seen growth over the years in the RV industry as a number of manufacturers have built Class A, B and C motorhomes on Sprinter chassis since 2001.
Powered by a 3.0-liter BlueTEC diesel engine, the Sprinter has best-in-class cargo capacity of up to 547 cubic feet and payload capacity up to 5,358 pounds. With cargo doors that open a full 270 degrees, the Sprinter also boasts a rear door opening that’s 5 feet 2 inches wide and 6-feet tall. Both the Cargo and Passenger Vans feature a side-door opening that’s 4 feet 3 inches wide and 6-feet high.
At the same time, their step-in height is only 19.9 inches – lowest in the industry. All versions are equipped with a number of Mercedes-Benz safety features — ESP stability and rollover control, ABS anti-lock brakes, Brake Assist and traction control. The driver and front passenger seats are equipped with standard multi-stage front air bags, and side curtain and torso air bags are optionally available.
Daimler Vans USA (DVU) recently reported 2010 Sprinter van sales totaled 8,559 units, representing a 2.5% increase over the previous year, according to a report by National Bus Trader.
Though the Sprinter van has been a familiar sight in the U.S. since 2001, including growing use as a platform in the RV industry, 2010 marked the first year of its new sales and service network, Daimler Vans USA.
“2010 was our first full year operating the Sprinter business here in the U.S. By stating focused on the needs of our Sprinter customers throughout the year, we were able to not only sustain our sales performance but achieve this increase over last year,” said Ernst Lieb, president and CEO of DVU’s parent company, Mercedes-Benz USA (MBUSA). “We are tremendously proud of the entire DVU organization, including our network of Mercedes and Freightliner Sprinter dealers. Together we were able to give a great product the support it deserves, and we expect continued momentum in 2011.”
The highly successful Mercedes-Benz Sprinter made its European debut in 1995, and a new generational Sprinter launched globally in 2006. Since 2001, the Sprinter has been sold in the U.S. by Freightliner, the industry’s leading manufacturer of medium- and heavy-duty trucks in North America. Complete with many Mercedes-Benz safety and convenience features, the U.S. lineup includes the cargo van, passenger van, mini bus, cab chassis and the new crew van.
Mercedes-Benz began offering the Sprinter line through select dealers in 2010. Both MBUSA and Freightliner are division of Daimler AG. In the U.S., the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter is targeted primarily toward small businesses while the Freightliner version continues to focus on its established customer base of commercial vehicle operators.
Daimler AG is recognized as the biggest manufacturer of trucks worldwide, and now it is expanding its Russian commercial-vehicle presence by manufacturing Sprinter vans as part of a partnership with OAO GAZ of billionaire Oleg Deripaska.
Automotive News reported the endeavor entails around $131 million in investments from Daimler in order to make the plant ready to produce a planned 250,000 units of the delivery van annually. The GAZ plant can be found in Nizhny Novgorod.
Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche said that the Russian commercial-vehicle market “is offering major growth prospects,” and of course it would be foolish to ignore such an opportunity. That’s why Daimler is capitalizing on the emerging market in the country, and by 2020 it expects Russia to demand 275,000 units of light commercial vehicles each year. The Russian market currently draws 177,000 units currently.
Currently, Daimler is really enjoying its dominance over the light truck segment. Sales in Brazil, China, India and Russia have increased by 64% over recent eight-month figures. Sales have increased by 27% over a nine-month period, and the van unit of the company saw a 28% increase over the past eight months. Total revenue also increased, thanks largely to a 44% increase in production to 160,000 vehicles.