Bulk of production to remain in Germany.
Mercedes-Benz will build a portion of its next-generation Sprinter lineup in North America to increase competitiveness, the company has announced.
While Mercedes-Benz remains committed to building the Sprinter in Germany, what the company called "rapid growth" of the large van segment in the North American market necessitates localized production of the next-generation model.
According to a statement from Daimler, the United States alone is now the second-largest sales market for its Sprinter line behind Germany. Due to U.S. import tariffs (aka the "Chicken Tax"), Sprinters bound for this market must be built in Germany, partially disassembled for importation, and then reassembled at the company's facility in Charleston, South Carolina. 23,000 Sprinters were sold in the United States in 2013, and with significant growth projected in this segment, the importation process will only grow more costly and time-consuming.
"As the market leader, we must also take into account the future worldwide growth of the Sprinter's segment. However, we can cover the growing demand for large vans in the North American market economically only if we produce the vehicles locally in the NAFTA region. That's why we have decided to produce the next generation of the Sprinter in North America as well," says Volker Mornhinweg, Head of Mercedes-Benz Vans.
The location of the new assembly facility has not yet been chosen. Daimler says the site selection process will be completed "in the coming months."