Mercedes-Benz Commits $500 Million to Build “Sprinter” Vans in the USA

America second only to Germany for MB large vans

Mercedes-Benz Vans has announced that it will invest around half a billion dollars to build a new van plant in the United States. Located in Charleston, South Carolina, the facility will supply the North American market with the next-generation Sprinter. With the new plant, Mercedes-Benz Vans will become one of the biggest industrial employers in the region. Within the total area of more than 200 acres (more than 800,000 m²), the division will create a completely new body shop, a paint shop and an assembly line. Construction of the new factory is scheduled to begin in 2016. Over 1300 jobs will be created.

The new Sprinter plant in the United States is essential for Mercedes-Benz Vans, as the large van segment is expected to grow rapidly in North America over the next few years. The United States is one of the most dynamic van markets in the world. At the same time, Mercedes-Benz Vans currently faces high U.S. import duties and a complex disassembly process of Sprinters made in Germany for sale in the U.S. The new plant and the vehicles ‘Made in USA’ will enable the company to more economically meet the growing demand from North American customers in the future and to considerably reduce delivery time on this market.

“Today is a very important day for Mercedes-Benz Vans and certainly also a very significant day for the Charleston area. We are investing around half a billion dollars to create a top-notch Mercedes-Benz van plant here in South Carolina. This plant is key to our future growth in the very dynamic North American van market,” said Volker Mornhinweg, Head of Mercedes-Benz Vans, at the official announcement of the plant’s location. “Charleston is an excellent location for our new plant. The region has very highly skilled workers, a dense network of reliable suppliers, and an outstanding logistics infrastructure that includes good transport connections to the nearby harbor.”

The Sprinter “Made in USA”

First introduced in 1995, more than 2.8 million Sprinters have been delivered to customers in around 130 countries worldwide. This makes the Sprinter a key pillar of the division’s “Vans goes global” growth strategy, which aims to consistently expand the business of Mercedes-Benz Vans worldwide and exploit additional sales potential in growth markets outside Europe.

Volker Mornhinweg: “In 2014 alone, we delivered around 26,000 Sprinters to U.S. customers, making the U.S. our second-largest sales market after Germany.”

The Sprinter has been available in the United States since 2001, and today holds approximately nine percent of the country’s large van market. Mercedes-Benz Vans pursues a dual-brand strategy in the U.S., where it offers the Sprinter as both a Mercedes-Benz and a Freightliner-branded vehicle. Sprinters of both brands will also roll off the assembly line at the future plant in Charleston. Besides the Sprinter, the Mercedes‑Benz Vans division will also add the Metris series of medium-sized vans to its product range in the U.S. beginning in fall this year.

About Mercedes-Benz Vans globally

Mercedes-Benz Vans has manufacturing facilities at a total of nine locations in Germany, Spain, the United States and Argentina, as well as in China with the Fujian Benz Automotive Co., Ltd. joint venture, and in France as a strategic alliance with Renault-Nissan. The Mercedes‑Benz Sprinter Classic is produced under license by the division’s partner GAZ in Russia. The most important markets for vans at the moment are in Western Europe, which accounts for 65 percent of unit sales. As part of the “Mercedes‑Benz Vans goes global” growth strategy, the division is also increasingly developing the growth markets of South America and Asia, as well as the Russian van market.

Written by

James Anderton

Jim Anderton is the Director of Content for Mr. Anderton was formerly editor of Canadian Metalworking Magazine and has contributed to a wide range of print and on-line publications, including Design Engineering, Canadian Plastics, Service Station and Garage Management, Autovision, and the National Post. He also brings prior industry experience in quality and part design for a Tier One automotive supplier.