Sprinter heralds the digital age

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A missing screw has already made some craftsmen to despair and its schedule confused. That does not have to be anymore. When it comes to Volker Mornhinweg, head of the Daimler van division, the fully networked delivery van ensures that there is always enough small equipment on board. “With automatic warehouse management, you do not have to go to the wholesalers three or four times to get missing material,” said the manager on the occasion of the presentation of the new sprinter in Duisburg.

Ideally, the networked large-capacity transporter orders the missing parts directly from the vehicle overnight, which the service provider then delivers and deposits in the craftsman’s vehicle. This is not everyday life yet. But Mornhinweg is convinced that it could come in the long term with a majority of customers.

The Sprinter is the flagship of the van division, which operates under the name Mercedes-Benz Vans in the Daimler Group. Last year, around 200,500 vehicles were sold by the long-haul transporter globally. The van division was able to increase its total sales by 12 percent to 401,000 vehicles last year. In 2020, the Stuttgart want to crack the mark of a total of 500,000 vans sold. The sprinter plays a crucial role, says the manager.

Not only America is important

The Group invested around 2.5 billion euros in the development, expansion of production and also in sales for the refurbished large capacity transporter. Among other things, it will also be produced in North America in the future. A production facility is currently being built in Charleston, South Carolina. The investment volume is around $ 500 million. The local production is scheduled to start in the second half of the year.

America is the second largest market for the Sprinter. Around 450 million euros flowed into the two German locations in Düsseldorf and Ludwigsfelde to bring the production up to date – and another 150 million dollars to the Argentine site Gonzales Catan near Buenos Aires.

The whole industry relies on networking

Daimler is by no means alone with the topic of networked vans; the whole industry is looking for better data usage. For example, since last year Volkswagen has also been selling the corresponding technology as an online service for fleet management. Even craftsmen could thus use their crafter better, says a Volkswagen spokesman. When a new order comes in, a craftsman can see in real time which of his vehicles is closest. If spare parts were needed, the route of a nearby vehicle could easily be redirected for pickup.

Whether from Daimler or VW, the systems are similar: thanks to the technology, maintenance and tire replacement should be detected and planned early – to avoid a vehicle having to go into the workshop for a short time and stand there for a long time. “Lifetimes are loss times. That’s the driver of the whole, “says the VW spokesman. Once Europe’s largest car maker and Daimler had a cooperation in the segment of large vans. Except for the engines and gearbox Crafter and Sprinter were mostly identical.

Electric drive should come

Global start of production of the new Sprinter is in Germany at the beginning of next month. Networking is becoming immensely important, as Peter Fuß of Ernst & Young is convinced. This applies to the strong growth thanks to online trading logistics, but also for the craft. “Many craft tradesmen spend too much time around them without their being used – so businesses lose money.”

Daimler recently announced that it intends to offer an electric version of all vans in the future. The first thing to do next summer is the Vito, a medium-sized van. The flagship Sprinter will be launched in 2019. The electric variant is to be used primarily in inner-city delivery traffic.

The company is expanding its field of activity as part of its electrical strategy and wants to be more than just a pure vehicle manufacturer. In the future, customers will be given comprehensive advice on the conversion of their vehicle fleet on request: this ranges from the planning of the corresponding charging infrastructure, to route planning and driving courses for the future drivers of the electric fleet.

With the new Sprinter, the van division of Daimler also intends to expand its position in the field of motorhomes. Therefore, there is for the first time a variant with front-wheel drive, in order to better represent the demand in this segment, as Mornhinweg reports.

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