Mercedes-Benz Metris van targets fleet buyers

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By Richard Truett, autonews.com
November 10th 2014

The midsize Mercedes-Benz cargo and passenger van coming next year will be called the Metris in North America. Daimler officials showed off four versions of the Euro van at last week's Specialty Equipment Market Association show in Las Vegas.

The Metris, sold globally as the Vito, has been a mainstay in Mercedes' lineup since 1996. The latest version, manufactured in Vitoria, Spain, is 202 inches long, about the same as the Dodge Grand Caravan. Slotted under the Sprinter van, it is expected to help Mercedes increase its U.S. van volume to around 50,000 units per year. The Sprinter is on track to sell close to 23,000 units in the United States this year.

The new van is scheduled to arrive in the United States next fall.

To avoid the 25 percent tariff known as the "chicken tax," the cargo versions of the Metris will be stripped of their powertrains, fuel tanks and batteries and shipped to the Daimler Vans plant in Ladson, S.C., for reassembly. Passenger versions are not subject to the tax.

Mercedes previewed the Metris at SEMA to showcase the van's easily customizable interior, said Mercedes spokesman Christian Bokich. The four SEMA vehicles included a mobile DJ booth with a flip-open roof, a luxury shuttle packed with high-end audio/visual equipment, a mobile command center aimed at fire departments and government agencies and a golf-themed van with a golf simulator.

Mercedes expects fleet buyers to account for most Metris sales and for the vans to be modified by upfitters for specific uses.

Mercedes did not release price or equipment details. But a 2.0-liter turbo gasoline engine from the C class is likely for the U.S. version. The van is offered globally with a choice of two four-cylinder diesel engines, and with front-, rear- or four-wheel drive.

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