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At a recent sneak preview of the new Sprinter model, held at its Sprinter Innovation Campus in Germany, Mercedes-Benz Vans was focused on the industry segments that the third generation of its commercial van is designed to serve. Along with passenger transport applications, the company noted that trade, service and delivery sectors are in need of efficiency enhancing vehicle technologies.
In the food retailing segment, for example, customers are increasingly turning to online shopping as a convenient alternative. Across the e-commerce spectrum, in fact, the comparably easier view of product offerings, in many cases lower prices and simplified ordering, are driving the need for more efficient delivery operations. The market for courier, express and parcel services is also characterized by demand for tighter delivery deadlines and flexible delivery windows, the company stated. Overnight delivery is standard in online retail, for example, while the delivery of goods on the day of ordering is also becoming more important.
As a result, with an advanced networking capability, the new Sprinter was designed to form part of a system that links job data with the vehicle. The new model is the first from Mercedes-Benz Vans to employ the manufacturer’s adVANce philosophy.
adVANce incorporates connectivity hardware and Mercedes PRO connect services, a set of networking and telematics solutions that are designed to play an instrumental role in optimizing fleet operations. Its central services include vehicle status, logistics, routing, communications, maintenance management, accident recovery and a digital vehicle log.
“This digital networking ability offers a host of new opportunities to improve efficiency and optimize processes throughout the customer chain,” said Dr. Ulf Zillig, overall project manager for the Sprinter at Mercedes-Benz Vans. “The Sprinter is now part of the Internet of Things and slots seamlessly into the digital world.
“We have also expanded the already wide-ranging Sprinter portfolio and added a multitude of new product features,” Zillig added. “This will allow us to meet the requirements of our commercial customers in various business sectors more effectively.”
Among the features of the new third-generation Sprinter, which will go into production in the spring of 2018, are a wider range of body variants, wheelbases, load heights, storage systems and interior options. Included are shelving solutions that provide for orderly loading and cargo management and enhance the ability of service technicians to use the Sprinter as a mobile workshop and for parts storage.
Mercedes-Benz Vans is also expanding its U.S. presence with a new Sprinter manufacturing campus. Now under construction in North Charleston, S.C., the facility that has assembled vans sent from Germany since 2006 will include manufacturing lines, a body and paint shop, and a storage area for finished vehicles. The manufacturer will also share a nearby site with a company that upfits Sprinter vans for customers.
Additionally, the company says its plans include offering more individualized next-generation Sprinters to customers. The company also announced plans to offer commercial van models with electric drive systems, including an all-electric eSprinter in 2019.
By making the leap from vehicle to integrated system solution, Mercedes-Benz Vans said that the new Sprinter provides the basis for an expansion of potential uses and enables fleets need to be integrated to an even greater degree than ever into corporate processes. This gives rise to a growing scope of applications for intelligent vehicles, which are required to play an even greater role in helping keep companies with transport needs competitive and successful, the company added.
“The Sprinter is the flagship of our commercial fleet and embodies our approach toward an integrated system solution,” said Volker Mornhinweg, head of Mercedes-Benz Vans. “Comprehensive industry-specific know-how, a vehicle that is adaptable to different transport requirements and innovative networking services add up to a fully integral product offering. The new Sprinter is the first example of this class of vehicle from Mercedes-Benz Vans and represents our understanding of the concept of smart hardware in every respect.”