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Daimler to Let Volkswagen Vanmaking Accord Lapse in 2016

Sept. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Daimler AG, the third-biggest luxury carmaker, will let a contract to build vans for Volkswagen AG expire in three years and use the capacity for the next version of its own large commercial model.

An agreement to make Volkswagen’s Crafter vehicle on the same German production lines as the Mercedes Sprinter van will cease in late 2016, Stuttgart, Germany-based Daimler said in a statement today.

“Both partners had a benefit from the long-lasting cooperation,” Volker Mornhinweg, head of the Mercedes van division, said in the statement. “With the next Sprinter, which is currently in development, we will ultimately be dependent on the production capacities that we have currently made available to Volkswagen.”

Volkswagen is developing its own new Crafter model, Eckhard Scholz, head of VW’s commercial-vehicle division, said on March 15. Volker Seitz, a spokesman at the division, reiterated today by phone that the company hasn’t decided where the vehicle will be built. VW’s other vans include the mid-size T5, built in Hanover, Germany, and the Caddy delivery vehicle, produced in Poznan, Poland.

Daimler is holding discussions with Renault SA to expand an existing partnership to large vans, Uta Leitner, a Daimler spokeswoman, said by phone today, reiterating comments made in late April. “Renault has expressed their interest” though “there are no concrete plans yet,” Leitner said.

‘Exploratory Talks’

Renault, based in the Paris suburb of Boulogne-Billancourt, is in “early exploratory talks” on a project, said Raluca Barb, a spokeswoman at the French carmaker.

The two manufacturers already cooperate on Daimler’s smaller Citan delivery van, which the German company adapted from Renault’s Kangoo.

Mercedes started contract manufacturing for Volkswagen in 2005 and produced about 280,000 vehicles for the Wolfsburg, Germany-based carmaker through 2012 at plants in Dusseldorf and Ludwigsfelde, near Berlin. The two factories have combined annual production of about 150,000 vans.

Mercedes presented a revamped version of the Sprinter in April with updated safety features including a crosswind assistant and engines complying with the Euro VI emission standard becoming mandatory for new vehicles next year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Dorothee Tschampa in Frankfurt at dtschampa@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chad Thomas at cthomas16@bloomberg.net

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