Freightliner Unveils Plans to Expand in Light Commercial Market with the Sprinter Van
Freightliner LLC plans to assemble and market the Sprinter commercial van in North America in cooperation with Mercedes-Benz. With this van, Freightliner makes its first major expansion into the lighter duty segment of the North American commercial vehicles market, a segment with volume of about 360,000 units annually in the U.S. and Canada.
The Freightliner Sprinter, a Class 2 - 3 product that will be offered initially in cargo and passenger van configurations, is a versatile and proven van for a wide range of uses, including:
• Parcel, package and general delivery
• Passenger transportation for municipalities, airports, and shuttle services
• Light construction and a full range of services from utilities to landscaping
“With the introduction of the Sprinter, Freightliner is once again changing the status quo in the commercial vehicles industry,” said Freightliner President Jim Hebe during the unveiling of the product at the Mid-America Truck Show in Louisville, KY, today.
“The Sprinter is a totally new van concept in North America with clear advantages in efficiency and functionality for customers. It’s a timely response to a burgeoning need for better, more versatile, more efficient light-duty delivery vehicles -- a need precipitated in large part by the revolution being wrought in this country by E-commerce and on-line retail.”
The Sprinter van complements Freightliner’s existing line of Class 3 - 6 walk-in van chassis products, which captured 65% of this diesel van market in 2000.
Freightliner will begin assembly in May of the Mercedes-Benz-designed Sprinter in its manufacturing plant in Gaffney, S.C.
“We are very pleased that the Sprinter which has become the top selling commercial van in the highly competitive European markets will now be available for customers in the U.S. and Canada,” said Dr. Rolf Bartke, head of Mercedes-Benz Vans Business Unit. “And we are confident that it will quickly establish itself as the new benchmark for this segment in the North American market,” he added.
Sprinter to Compete with Broad Range of Class 2 - 3 Products
The Freightliner Sprinter will set new standards in fuel efficiency, functionality, ergonomics, performance and safety for the Class 2 - 3 vehicle range, which includes vans, van cutaways, cab/chassis and other segments. It will be available in three basic configurations -- cargo van, passenger van, and cab chassis -- each with three wheelbase lengths, two GVWs and two roof heights.
Power and Performance
The heart of the Sprinter van powertrain – and its most productive differentiator -- is its Mercedes-Benz 5-cylinder in-line turbocharged diesel engine, which delivers better fuel economy, longer maintenance intervals and better durability.
“The Mercedes engine technology allows the Sprinter to perform like a V-8 gasoline engine, yet provides customers with a smooth running van with greater fuel economy,” Hebe said. The Mercedes-Benz 5-cylinder Common-rail Direct Injection (CDI) engine has a 156 horsepower rating with 244 ft. lbs. of torque. The Mercedes-Benz CDI engine is matched with a standard 5-speed automatic transmission.
The Sprinter is available in two roof heights: a 64-inch standard interior height and a 73-inch high roof model. “With exceptional height direct from the factory,” Hebe said, “the Sprinter is the only commercial van that allows standing room and increased cargo space without converting the roof height after the vehicle is completed.” The standard roof height version provides nearly 12 more inches of interior standing room than its competitors.
With the 73-inch roof, the Sprinter cargo van configuration provides customers with up to 473 cubic feet of cargo space and can haul payloads up to 5,100 pounds. The increased interior space also creates an ideal environment for passenger transportation.
In addition, the Sprinter design incorporates full-height rear doors for efficient access to the cargo compartment. The full-height doors allow customers to load cargo vertically in many cases rather than loading it horizontally or strapping cargo to the roof.
The Sprinter is also designed with sidewalls that are nearly vertical from the floor of the van to the bottom of the windows. This feature provides more useable space and creates a larger working space for interior conversions. The Sprinter is ideal for mobile workshops such as locksmiths, plumbers, electricians and others.
Ergonomics and Safety
The interior of the Sprinter is engineered to maximize the driver’s comfort. The design of the controls are driver-friendly and more car-like than other commercial vans. “There’s a direct correlation between comfort and safety, just as there’s a direct connection between comfort and driver productivity,” Hebe said.
With a sharp sloping hood and expansive windshield, drivers have exceptional forward and side visibility in the Sprinter. The Sprinter also has a tight turning radius allowing operators to navigate narrow urban and suburban roads, and reducing the need for backing up. The standard power-assisted rack and pinion steering provides excellent steering response and superb road feel.
The Sprinter features four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, driver and passenger air bags and impact absorbing interior panels and sheet metal for increased driver and passenger safety.
The Sprinter cargo van configuration will be available starting in June, with the passenger version being available in September. The passenger van can carry 10 people and has a GVWR of 8,550 pounds. The passenger and cargo configurations will be available in three wheelbase lengths: 118, 140 and 158 inches. Both are also available in two roof heights: the 64-inch and 73-inch.
The standard cargo van is rated for 8,550 pounds with 4,123 pounds of cargo capacity. It is also available with a 9,990-pound gross vehicle weight rating for a payload capacity of 5,105 pounds.
A cab chassis will be available in 2002. The cab chassis will be available in two weight capacities: 8,550 GVWR and 9,990 GVWR. The 8,550 GVWR will be built with three wheelbase lengths: 118, 140 and 158 inches. The 9,990 GVWR will come in two wheelbase lengths: 140 and 158 inches.
Freightliner will distribute the Sprinter throughout the United States and Canada through a dedicated Freightliner light commercial vehicle dealer network now being established in large metropolitan markets. These dealers will have dedicated facilities and resources to support the light commercial customer.