Mercedes Unveils Stripped-Down Sprinter Van to Boost Sales

  • New version reduces base price about $4,000 to $32,495
  • Worker model comes only in white, offers one engine type

Mercedes-Benz is unveiling a stripped-down version of its Euro-styled Sprinter work van to help build on sales gains for the commercial vehicles.

The new Worker model will cost $32,495, the Daimler AG unit said in a statement. That’s about $4,000 less than both the current lowest-price Sprinter and one of its main competitors, Ford Motor Co.’s Transit XL, Mercedes said. The U.S. automaker also has a Transit starting at $30,960, according to its website.

“The Sprinter has traditionally been more expensive than its competitors, so making it accessible to more buyers should help,” said Stephanie Brinley, an analyst at IHS Automotive.

To keep costs down, Mercedes will offer the Worker only in white, with one body style; one type of engine, a 2.1-liter diesel; and just three sets of options, said Bernie Glaser, vice president of the company’s U.S. van operations, who is introducing the new version Thursday at the Chicago Auto Show.

“We’re targeting the heart of this market -- electricians, plumbers and air-conditioning technicians -- with our most affordable Sprinter ever,” Glaser said in an interview.

Last year, Mercedes sold 29,889 commercial vans in the U.S. through a network that included 230 Mercedes and 60 Freightliner dealerships, Glaser said. The sales were up 16 percent from the previous year. Mercedes in 2015 began selling the smaller Metris van, which according to Autodata Corp. accounted for 1,368 of the deliveries.

Mercedes is spending $500 million to expand a factory near Charleston, South Carolina, that produces Sprinter vans.

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