Mercedes-Benz Vans lays groundwork for long-term production strategy for the next generation of the Sprinter

Oct 21, 2014
  • Strong commitment to German production plants for the next generation of the Sprinter
  • Mercedes-Benz Vans is only manufacturer in this segment to continue production in Germany
  • Investment of €300 million in Düsseldorf - Expanded plant to serve as global center of competence for the Sprinter
  • Investment of €150 million in Ludwigsfelde plant
  • Rapid growth of North American market for large vans makes additional assembly plant in NAFTA region necessary
  • Continuation of talks with employee representatives on concrete details of transitional phase at Düsseldorf plant
Stuttgart – Mercedes-Benz Vans has finalized its long-term strategy for the production of the successor model of the Sprinter. As the only manufacturer in the segment of large vans that is producing vehicles in Germany, Mercedes-Benz Vans will assemble the next generation of the Sprinter at its plants in Düsseldorf and Ludwigsfelde. For this purpose, Mercedes-Benz Vans will invest a total of €450 million in the modernization of the two German plants . "Our plants in Düsseldorf and Ludwigsfelde have a highly skilled workforce that has built up a comprehensive stock of van production know-how over a period of several decades. That's why we are putting these two plants at the center of our production strategy for the next generation of the Sprinter as well. Through investments of almost half a billion euros, we will safeguard the long-term competitiveness of our German plants and make them fit for the fierce global competition in this segment," says Volker Mornhinweg, Head of Mercedes-Benz Vans.
Mercedes-Benz Vans will invest €300 million in the Düsseldorf plant, specifically to modernize the body shop, the paint shop, and the assembly line. The closed models of the Sprinter have been produced here since 1995. In addition, the Düsseldorf plant, which is the leading plant for worldwide Sprinter production, will play an even more central role in the global production network of Mercedes-Benz Vans in the future.
"The substantial investments in the modernization of our plant and its expansion into a worldwide center of competence for the Sprinter represents a clear commitment to our location and a significant boost for the long-term development of Mercedes-Benz Vans in Düsseldorf," says Martin Kelterer, Plant Director and Head of Production at the Düsseldorf Mercedes-Benz plant.
Extensive investments are also flowing into the plant in Ludwigsfelde, where the open models of the Sprinter have been produced since 2006.
"We're glad that the next generation of the Sprinter will also be rolling off the assembly line in Ludwigsfelde and that the investment of €150 million will safeguard the long-term competitiveness of our plant," says Michael Bauer, the Managing Director of Mercedes-Benz Ludwigsfelde GmbH.
Establishment of local Sprinter production in the NAFTA region is necessary
The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter has been a success story in the van business for almost 20 years now. It is the worldwide market leader in the large van segment and is delivered to customers in about 130 countries all over the globe. This makes the Sprinter a key pillar of the worldwide growth strategy "Vans goes global," which aims to systematically internationalize the division's business operations and exploit additional sales potential in the growth markets outside Europe. The U.S. is now the Sprinter's second-largest sales market after Germany. About 23,000 Sprinter vans were delivered to U.S. customers in 2013. As part of its growth strategy, Mercedes-Benz Vans has set itself the goal of more effectively benefiting from the high growth rates of the North American market in the large van segment.
Because of the high import tariffs, the Sprinters for the U.S. market have so far been produced at the two German plants, partly dismantled in a time-consuming process, and reassembled at the plant in Charleston, South Carolina. This process results in a significant competitive disadvantage on the U.S. market for Mercedes-Benz, since it leads to long delivery times, makes the vehicle more expensive for U.S. customers, and is therefore not economical in the long term in view of the expected growth in demand.
"As the market leader, we must also take into account the future worldwide growth of the Sprinter's segment. However, we can cover the growing demand for large vans in the North American market economically only if we produce the vehicles locally in the NAFTA region. That's why we have decided to produce the next generation of the Sprinter in North America as well," says Volker Mornhinweg. Mercedes-Benz Vans will decide on the exact location for the future production of the new Sprinter in the NAFTA region during the coming months by means of the usual plant selection process.
The successful Mercedes-Benz Sprinter model
The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter has set benchmarks in its segment since its market launch in 1995. It has been sold in several thousand variants in approximately 130 countries all over the globe. To date, Mercedes-Benz has delivered a total of more than 2.5 million units of this large van to customers. The Sprinter has been rolling off the assembly line in Düsseldorf since 1995. Currently about 150,000 large vans are produced annually in Düsseldorf, which is Daimler AG's biggest van production plant and has about 6,500 employees. The Sprinter has been produced at the Ludwigsfelde plant since summer 2006. Here approximately 2,000 employees build about 50,000 large vans annually. In order to meet the global demand for the successful Sprinter model, the vans roll off the assembly lines not only at the Düsseldorf and Ludwigsfelde plants but also in González Catan (Argentina), Fuzhou (China), and Nizhny Novgorod (Russia).