(picture courtesy of Mercedes-Benz Canada)
Mercedes-Benz has decided to turn the Sprinter from a former Dodge and Freightliner back into what is really under the hood: a Mercedes. As of 2010, the Sprinter will run under the prestigious Mercedes-Benz brand as is the case in all of Europe.
The Sprinter which has become the symbol of the light commercial vehicle segment is ready to take on the Fords and Chevrolets of the Northamerican market. As most of the competitors have barely undergone major improvements in terms of design, variability and of course technology, the efficient Sprinter is a serious threat. According to a Daimler press release, the Sprinter will be offered with a „3.0 litre 6-cylinder diesel engine that offers best in class fuel efficiency while still meeting the latest strict emission regulations, including the particularly stringent EPA 10 guidelines.“ In times of growing awareness for the economy and the gas prices the Sprinter is more than just a bulky means of transportation.
There is no doubt about the qualities of this vehicle. But the really interesting thing is the branding facet. Industry experts even spoke of breaking a taboo when Daimler in 2009 announced the Sprinter to carry the famous star after years of Dodge and Freightliner badges in the northamerican markets. This is a novelty. Never before have commercial vehicles been allowed to use the star which other than in Europe has been reserved for Daimler’s luxury car segment. And this is exactly where the so-called taboo is rooted. The brand will now have to play two roles at a time: that of the hard worker, the van that gets things done and on the other side that of a luxury car: stylish, desirable, elegant, prestigious. But maybe this balancing act even makes good sense. You and your Sprinter work hard every day, so that in the end when the job is done and your business has proven successful you can reward yourself with an E-class or similar.
It remains to be seen how successful this brand strategy will be. In terms of quality, dependability and technology, the Sprinter has nothing to fear. As to its rivals – better be prepared, there is a new van in town!