2007 Dodge Sprinter – Click above for high-res image gallery
As much as Daimler has been hating on Chrysler lately, one would think that the Pentastar was the cold-hearted deviant who stuck a knife into the heart of the German automaker. The "Merger of Equals" turned out to be a bum deal for Chrysler, but at least it was able to procure some hardware from its German ex. Some parts of the LX platform that underpins the Dodge 300C, Charger and Challenger, and the platform that will underpin the next-generation Jeep Grand Cherokee and Durango all came from Mercedes-Benz, as does the excellent Sprinter van.
Though the Sprinter has been met with some level of success at select Dodge dealers, Mercedes has decided to pull the plug on Chrysler in 2010. About 350 dealers sell the Sprinter as a Dodge, and the large commercial van has managed sales of about 20,000 per year since it donned the Ram head in 2003. Mercedes is switching to 120 dealers branded Daimler Vans USA.
The updated Sprinter van, which will now be branded as a Mercedes, will receive a new 3.0L diesel engine that will reportedly be eligible for sale in all 50 US states. The Daimler dealers will reportedly be able to sell up to 18,000 vans per year, a sizable portion of the van's production quota of 32,000 vehicles per year. The remaining production will be sold as Freightliners. The commercial vehicle company has 45 specialized Sprinter van dealers across the nation.
Daimler says the reason for the switch has a lot to do with the fact that the vehicle is now established in the market, though one has to wonder if the German automaker is making an effort to further distance itself from its former step-child. The big losers in the deal could be the 350 Dodge dealers who spent $30-50K to upgrade their dealerships to sell and service the vans.
[Source: Automotive News - subs req'd]