Mercedes-Benz Vans

Mercedes-Benz Vans continued along its course of growth during the year under review, achieving a small increase in revenue and setting a new record for unit sales. Growth was mainly driven by positive developments in the United States, China and Latin America. We also set a new sales record in Germany. The launch of the new Sprinter and the first full year of availability of the X-Class in the pickup segment enabled us to consistently forge ahead with our “Mercedes-Benz Vans goes global” growth strategy. In addition, our future-oriented “adVANce” initiative has allowed us to systematically move ahead with the transformation of Mercedes-Benz Vans from a vehicle manufacturer into a supplier of holistic transportation and mobility solutions for cargo and passengers. EBIT in 2018 was significantly lower than the previous year’s high level.

New record for unit sales

Mercedes-Benz Vans set a new sales record once again in financial year 2018, with an increase of 5 % to 421,400 units. At €13.6 billion, revenue was also higher than in the previous year (2017: €13.2 billion). EBIT reached €312 million and was thus, as expected, significantly lower than the high level achieved in 2017.

C.05 Mercedes-Benz Vans

  2018 2017 18/17
€ amounts in millions   % change
Revenue 13,626 13,161 1 +4
EBIT 312 1,147 1 -73
Return on sales (in %) 2.3 8.7 1 .
Investment in property, plant and equipment 468 710 -34
Research and development expenditure
thereof capitalized
Production 440,314 405,129 +9
Unit sales 421,401 401,025 +5
Employees (December 31) 26,210 25,255 +4

1 The amounts have been adjusted due to the effects of first-time adoption of IFRS 15 and IFRS 9.

C.06 Unit sales Mercedes-Benz Vans

  2018 2017 18/17
    % change
Total 421,401 401,025 +5
EU30 278,269 273,297 +2
thereof Germany 107,267 105,781 +1
NAFTA 50,851 44,815 +13
thereof United States 38,741 34,158 +13
Latin America
(excluding Mexico)
18,735 16,378 +14
Asia 38,779 33,641 +15
thereof China 29,068 23,801 +22
Other markets 34,767 32,894 +6

Continued growth

Mercedes-Benz Vans’ products continued to be very successful in 2018. Our Sprinter, Vito and Citan vans are tailored mainly to commercial customers, while the V-Class is designed primarily for private use. The X-Class is targeted at a variety of private and commercial customers.

The new Mercedes-Benz X-Class: “First Contact” | Product Film

Sales of 278,300 units in the EU30 region, our core market, were slightly higher than in the previous year (273,300). We set a new record in Germany, with 107,300 units sold (2017: 105,800). Mercedes-Benz Vans continued to grow in the NAFTA region, where sales rose by a significant 13 % to 50,900 units. This included a new record of 38,700 units sold in the United States (2017: 34,200). Mercedes-Benz Vans’ products were also very much in demand in Latin America. Unit sales in Argentina increased by 14 % to 18,700 units, despite the difficult economic situation in that country. The Mercedes-Benz Vans division continued its successful development in China in 2018. Unit sales in China increased significantly, by 22 % to the new record of 29,100 vans. This development was largely due to the success of the Vito and the V-Class.

At 206,300 units, global sales of Sprinter models were slightly higher than in the previous year (2017: 200,500). Sales of vans in the mid-size segment remained at the prior-year level, totaling 172,200 units in 2018, whereas sales of Vito models decreased slightly to 108,300 in the year under review (2017: 111,800). Sales of the V-Class full size MPV rose by 8 % to 63,900 units. Meanwhile, sales of the Mercedes-Benz Citan reached 26,300 units (2017: 26,100). Sales of the X-Class, which we launched at the end of 2017, totaled 16,700 units in the year under review (2017: 3,300).

World premiere of the new Sprinter

The new Mercedes-Benz Sprinter had its world premiere in February 2018; the model then went into production at the Düsseldorf and Ludwigsfelde plants at the beginning of March. The new Sprinter was launched in Europe in June and then successively in additional markets. We also expanded our production network in September 2018 with the opening of our new plant in North Charleston and the start of production of the new Sprinter there. In recent years, we have invested a total of approximately €2.5 billion worldwide in Sprinter development, the global production network for the model, and sales and aftersales services.

As the first integrated connectivity system solution offered by Mercedes-Benz Vans, the third generation of the Sprinter represents the division’s development from a pure vehicle manufacturer into a provider of holistic transport and mobility solutions.

Mercedes-Benz Vans – accelerating innovations.

With new connectivity services, an electric drive system and customized hardware solutions for the cargo space, the large van will make customers’ business much more efficient in the connected world of the future. The first Mercedes PRO fleet solutions were made available to commercial Sprinter customers when the new model was launched in June 2018. Mercedes PRO is Mercedes-Benz Vans’ service brand that offers services and digital solutions in a total of eight added-value packages with 18 services. The technical basis for Mercedes PRO services is a communication module that is installed as standard in all Sprinter variants.

How to optimize your daily routines with Mercedes PRO.

Investment in the Sprinter production network

In preparation for the new generation of the Sprinter, Mercedes Benz Vans made significant investments in its production network; the division focused here on manufacturing operations in the United States and Germany. After a construction period of approximately two years, our new plant in North Charleston, South Carolina, opened in September 2018. In view of the anticipated high market potential for the new Sprinter in North America, Mercedes-Benz Vans invested roughly $500 million in the new plant in North Charleston, which includes a body shop, a paint shop and a final assembly area. With the new ultramodern production site, we will be able to supply our customers in North America even faster and more flexibly in the future, thus better utilizing the dynamic potential of the North American market. The new plant in North Charleston is therefore a central component of the “Mercedes-Benz Vans goes global” growth strategy.

In addition to the investment in North Charleston, Mercedes-Benz Vans invested approximately €450 million in the lead plant of the global Sprinter production network, which is located in Düsseldorf, Germany, as well as in the Sprinter facility in Ludwigsfelde, Germany. Mercedes Benz Vans also invested roughly US$150 million in Sprinter production operations at the González Catán plant near Buenos Aires in Argentina.

Numerous major contracts

In the first quarter of 2018, Mercedes-Benz Vans and the motor home and travel van manufacturer Hymer announced plans to establish a new comprehensive supply relationship. To this end, an agreement was concluded for deliveries of more than one thousand Sprinters each year, which will eventually make Hymer the largest single customer for the new Sprinter in the motor home and travel van sector.

During the opening ceremony for the plant in South Carolina, Mercedes-Benz Vans also announced that it will manufacture Sprinter vans in North Charleston for Amazon’s Delivery Service Partner program. The program makes it possible for small business owners to obtain customized delivery vehicles with special leasing contracts at attractive conditions. The first Sprinter built in North Charleston was delivered to a participant in the Delivery Service Partner program. Amazon plans to add 20,000 Sprinter vans from Mercedes-Benz to its delivery fleet in the United States within the framework of the new partnership. The online retailer will thus place the largest single order ever received by Mercedes-Benz Vans.

Full speed ahead for the future-oriented “adVANce” ­initiative

With its future-oriented “adVANce” initiative, Mercedes-Benz Vans is evolving from a manufacturer of globally successful vans into a provider of holistic system solutions for the transportation of goods and passengers. The division is thus playing a pioneering role in its sector. adVANce combines activities in various areas and currently comprises six innovation fields: digital@Vans, solutions@Vans, rental@Vans, sharing@Vans, eDrive@Vans and autonomous@Vans. We are employing a customer-oriented co-creation approach to incorporate our customers into the development process at an early stage. Here, we are combining our six innovation fields in order to develop new business models and tailored solutions that are adapted to our customers’ respective sectors. Mercedes-Benz Vans is also adopting a new approach with eDrive@Vans, which utilizes the way a van is used in each specific case as the key factor for evaluating various drive system options. More specifically, with eDrive@Vans, the choice of battery-electric drive or a conventional combustion engine depends solely on which represents the best solution for a particular application. Fuel cells will be added to the drive system portfolio over the medium term. In order to meet as many transport needs as possible while allowing many different sectors to enter the world of locally emission-free electric mobility, the eSprinter is now ready to join the eVito as the second model with battery-electric drive. The eSprinter will be launched on the market sometime in 2019. In the future, Mercedes-Benz Vans will expand its eDrive@VANs strategy to include fuel cells. Based on the example of a semi-integrated travel van, the Concept Sprinter F-CELL showcases the full spectrum of typical advantages of a fuel cell, from long range to locally emission-free mobility. The Concept Sprinter F-CELL unites fuel cell and battery technology in a plug-in hybrid. The eDrive@VANs strategy involves not only the electrification of the vehicle fleet but also a customized overall system solution for each individual fleet. This includes advice on vehicle selection, assistance with tools such as the eVAN Ready app, and an overview of the total cost of ownership.

Daimler, with Mercedes-Benz Vans, is part of the ZUKUNFT.DE federal model project for electric mobility in Germany. ZUKUNFT.DE is a German acronym that stands for customer-friendly delivery operations, sustainability, flexibility and transparency – all brought about by emission-free vehicle operation. Among other things, the project includes the electrification of last-mile parcel deliveries in urban environments. We are one of 11 project partners that are cooperating closely with five associated partners in this major joint project, which is receiving assistance from researchers and scientists and support from the German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure. The project is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2020.

With its Vision URBANETIC, Mercedes-Benz Vans has presented a revolutionary mobility concept under the label autonomous@Vans that goes far beyond previous ideas of autonomous vehicles. Vision URBANETIC removes the separation between passenger and goods transport and is set to enable the needs-based, sustainable and efficient movement of people and goods. As part of a holistic system solution, Vision URBANETIC addresses future urban challenges and offers innovative solutions. This visionary concept is based on an autonomously driving, electrically powered chassis that can carry various swap bodies for transporting either passengers or goods.

World premiere of the Mercedes-Benz Vision URBANETIC.

In 2017, the American startup Via and Mercedes-Benz Vans established a joint venture known as ViaVan, whose ride-sharing services are a part of sharing@Vans. The company’s innovative technology uses an intelligent algorithm to combine the same or similar routes and destinations requested by various passengers into a single trip with one vehicle, which makes it possible to avoid detours and delays for everyone. The app-based, on-demand ride-sharing service was launched in Amsterdam in March 2018. It was subsequently introduced successfully in London, and then later in Berlin in September in cooperation with the Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (BVG) transportation company. The new service is now also being used for the first time to help optimize individual passenger transport at a company – ViaVan was launched at the BASF site in Ludwigshafen, Germany, in the year under review.

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