Mercedes-Benz is launching the Metris midsize van for 2016. Photo by Ian Merritt/MBUSA.
At an event held this week in Dunton Hot Springs, Colo., Mercedes-Benz Vans USA outlined product plans and market niches for Metris, its new midsize van introduced at the NTEA Work Truck Show in Indianapolis in March.
“We think a midsize van is a good fit for the U.S. market and will match U.S. requirements,” said Mathias Geisen, general manager, product management & marketing for Mercedes-Benz Vans USA.
For Metris, “Expect more passenger van sales than Sprinter,” Geisen said.
Mercedes predicts a 50-50 split between passenger and cargo van sales for Metris. Broken down further by use type, sales are expected to be 30% livery, 25% service and maintenance, 20% taxi and shuttle, 18% goods delivery and 7% special purpose vehicles.
While the Sprinter is offered in three GVWRs, body lengths and roof heights, as well as two wheelbases, engines and drivetrains, Metris will have one length, height and engine — a 2.0L 4-cylinder gasoline engine found in the C-Class.
As such, Mercedes said the market for Metris is not merely a smaller version of Sprinter. The U.S. customer base for Sprinter breaks down heavily in construction trade (60%), followed by passenger transport (15%), delivery services (15%) and retail/wholesale business (10%).
Mercedes said it is looking to capitalize on an underserved market with specifications that fit under the Euro-style vans (Ford Transit, Mercedes Sprinter, Ram ProMaster and Nissan NV) as well as General Motors’ Express and Savana, yet larger than the small van class (Ford Transit Connect, Ram ProMaster City, Nissan NV200 and its rebadged counterpart, Chevrolet City Express).
The closest competitor to Metris in dimensions is the Ram C/V Tradesman, a cargo version of Dodge Grand Caravan, though Ram intends to sunset the C/V Tradesman this year.
Large van sales make up 85% of U.S. market, dominated by Ford, followed by Chevrolet, Mercedes-Benz (Sprinter), GMC, Ram and Nissan. Outside of large vans, Mercedes believes the van market can grow by an additional 100,000 units in 2016 and 2017, said Bernie Glaser, VP and managing director, Mercedes-Benz Vans USA.
Mercedes used the term “garagability” when referring to Metris — the “sweet spot” between the larger, Euro-style vans that can’t fit in a garage and the smaller vans that have fewer passenger capabilities and payload and cargo capacities, said Geisen.