Mercedes-Benz delivers intelligent new Sprinter

By: Cobey Bartels


New Mercedes-Benz Sprinter vans New Mercedes-Benz Sprinter vans New Mercedes-Benz Sprinter vans
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With a touch of glitz and glamour, Mercedes-Benz launched the latest generation Sprinter range in February, including an all-electric model. Cobey Bartels reports from Duisburg, Germany

 

The new generation of Mercedes-Benz light commercial vehicles is headed for Australia in the fourth quarter of this year, already a market leader down under but with even more to offer this time.

Since the Sprinter was first launched in 1995, 3.4 million units have been sold, but Benz isn’t complacent, aiming to deliver the most technologically advanced light commercial vehicles to market.

With a focus on connectivity, user experience and efficiency, Mercedes-Benz showcased their updated range of powertrains, interior technology and an all-electric offering.

The holistic systems approach taken for the new Sprinter saw the introduction of the Mercedes-Benz User Experience (MBUX) and telematics functionality better equipping the vehicle for commercial fleet use.

A high level of vehicle customisability is offered, with a total of 1,734 different variants offered based on combinations of body type, powertrain, cab configuration, length and cargo space height.

Ultimately, this allows for a better off-the-shelf fit for a range of commercial applications.

The maximum load capacity within the new model range is 17 cubic metres, with tonnages of up to 5.5 tonnes depending on the configuration.

Two exciting new additions to the Sprinter line-up are front-wheel-drive models, and the all-electric zero-emission eSprinter.

The front-wheel-drive Sprinter is available as a 9-speed automatic and 6-speed manual and offers 50 kilograms in increased payload and lower-cost base models, adding to the manufacturer’s rear-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive staples.

In addition to the increased payload, the front-wheel-drive options have 80mm lower loading edges, taking the strain off operators.

The nine-speed automatic torque converter transmission is a first in the large van segment, bringing a wider range of gears to improve engine economy and driveability.

By van standards, the safety features on the new Sprinter are top notch, with Distronic radar-based cruise control, active brake assist, active lane keeping assist, attention assist, rain sensor, and 360-degree visibility.

Emphasis on style

During the launch event, a point consistently mentioned was that Mercedes-Benz believes a vehicle represents a fleet’s image and so exterior design is an important factor.

The Sprinter was designed to perform, but also look the part and based on initial impressions it shares styling cues with the passenger car range.

The interior was a cut above on the new Sprinter, with a connected user experience generally reserved for high-end cars, with optional extras like a parking package that offers 360-degree view.

The MBUX multimedia system the third-gen Sprinter scores, which was only just unveiled on the new A-class, offers connectivity via a 10.25-inch HD touchscreen display.

Hardly technology you’d expect in a commercial vehicle, according to Mercedes-Benz, it’s all about providing a better user experience for drivers.

MBUX has voice control and something like running low on fuel means the system suggests nearby petrol stations and the best route to take.

A telematics-style system is also built into the range, called Mercedes PRO, offering vehicle and driver location, digital driver’s logbook, vehicle logistics, fleet communication, and maintenance management.

Last mile delivery

The all-electric eSprinter was a hit at the launch event, and will become available in some markets for ordering from November 2019 – aimed at delivering unparalleled efficiency within the last-mile-delivery industry.

When asked whether the electric model would make its way down under, Mercedes-Benz confirmed a promising amount of interest in Australia and New Zealand.

"It will launch in Europe first and following that it will be released for other markets if there is adequate demand," says Mercedes-Benz Vans Australia and New Zealand PR and corporate communications manager Blake Vincent.

"We expect there to be significant interest in both Australia and New Zealand. We already regularly receive enquiries about electric vans from major fleet companies who are looking to improve efficiency and sustainability in their operations.

"Initially only one electric van was planned, but now both Sprinter and Vito will be available, which only strengthens the potential and our interest in launching locally."

Mercedes-Benz Vans global CEO Volker Mornhinweg emphasises the importance of connectivity in modern commercial vehicles and says the Sprinter sets a new standard for commercial vehicles.

"In the logistics and transport world of the future, adaptability to specific needs and the changing expectations of customers will be a defining success factor," Mornhinweg says.

"Just building a good vehicle is therefore not enough. The new Sprinter must be more than the sum of its parts.

"With new connectivity services, a new telematics generation and an unprecedented number of variants, it is a comprehensive system meeting an enormous range of commercial transport requirements.

"This means that the new Sprinter achieves precisely what its preceding generations demonstrated before: it sets new standards."

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