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Mercedes-Benz to build Sprinter van plant in S.C.


Mercedes-Benz said today it plans to spend $500 million to build a new plant in Charleston, S.C., so it can assemble its next-generation Sprinter commercial van there, providing more evidence that the commercial van segment in the U.S. is continuing to get more competitive.

The investment will create 1,300 new jobs.

“This plant is key to our future growth in the very dynamic North American van market,” Volker Mornhinweg, head of Mercedes-Benz vans, said in a statement.

Ford’s new full-size Transit van attempts to appeal to all by offering three roof heights, two wheelbase lengths, and regular and extended-length bodystyles.Ford’s new full-size Transit van attempts to appeal to all by offering three roof heights, two wheelbase lengths, and regular and extended-length bodystyles. (Photo: Wieck)
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Ford’s new full-size Transit van attempts to appeal to all by offering three roof heights, two wheelbase lengths, and regular and extended-length bodystyles. Joe Hinrichs, Ford president of The Americas, helped Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, demonstrates in April, 2014 Ford is making a new play for the police paddy wagon A current-generation, 2013 Ford E-Series van. It’s being phased out as the big Transit vans rolls into the market to replace it.  Chevrolet Express Cargo Van is an older design, but beloved by some buyers who have a package of modifications suited to their businesses and don’t want to redesign the cargo space in a new van to do the same.  Mercedes-Benz pioneered the modern full-size van with Chrysler Group — now renamed FCA US — bases its Ram ProMaster on a Fiat van. The Nissan NV Cargo Van’s ample cargo area offers a
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Mercedes-Benz said construction of the 8.6-million-square-foot plant is expected to begin in 2016. The plant will include a new body shop, a paint shop and an assembly line.

Daimler AG was the first automaker to sell a European-styled commercial van in the U.S. in 2001.

But over the past three years, the commercial van segment has become vastly more competitive as Ford, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Nissan all introduced new or completely redesigned commercial vans in the U.S.

In recent years, Nissan has launched its NV full-size and NV200 smaller commercial and cargo vans, Ram has launched its the ProMaster and ProMaster City and Ford has introduced the Transit Connect small van and replaced its Econoline with the Transit big commercial van.

Last year, Daimler AG sold 26,000 Sprinter vans to U.S. customers under the Mercedes-Benz and Freightliner brand names. The new plant will continue to produce Sprinter vans for both brands.

The German automaker makes 15 commercial vehicles it sells worldwide and has recently created dedicated commercial van divisions for every region.

But until now, the automaker has been shipping the van in kit-form from Germany and reassembling in Charleston, S.C.

“Charleston is an excellent location for our new plant,” Mornhinweg said in a statement. “The region has very highly skilled workers, a dense network of reliable suppliers, and an outstanding logistics infrastructure that includes good transport connections to the nearby harbor.”

The announcement in Charlestown this morning at an event with

“Today’s announcement builds on a decade of success for Daimler and Mercedes-Benz in the South Carolina Lowcountry,” the state’s governor, Nikki Haley, said in a statement. “Its decision to bring South Carolina-made vans to the North American market is huge, and the 1,300 new jobs this plant will create is a big boost to the region.”