From Mercedes-Benz the new Sprinter has been released, but it didn’t launch as just a van, it is planned to be more of a transportation solution. Part of the package will be an extensive telematics offering under the Mercedes PRO brand that will allow for highly automated dispatch, optimised routing, traffic information and built-in diagnostics that will issue service and repair notifications.
This will help fill what Mercedes-Benz Vans chief Volker Mornhinweg says will be a shortage of vans for the ever-increasing last-mile deliveries, and returns, which are part and parcel of internet retail.
Mercedes Benz’s Innovation Campus showcase of the Sprinter revealed some of the features of the third-generation Sprinter that will offer ultimate uptime as one of its differentiating features over other Euro-style ‘white’ vans.
Mercedes-Benz parent company Daimler predicts vans will become increasingly necessary as the world’s population gravitates to megacities with more than 10 million inhabitants, and as retail shifts to e-commerce, fragmenting loads while increasing consumer demand for ever shorter delivery times. All of this calls for the integration of vehicle design and delivery systems, said presenters at the Innovation Campus event.
“The Sprinter is the flagship of our commercial fleet and embodies our approach toward an integrated system solution,” said Mornhinweg. “Comprehensive industry-specific know-how, a vehicle that is adaptable to different transport requirements, and innovative networking services add up to a fully integrated product offering.”
Worldwide, the 2019 Sprinter will have three wheelbases, four body lengths, three roof heights and four dashboard configurations, with the premium level offering up to three top-of-dash lidded storage bins – an industry first.
Mercedes-Benz will also offer different drivetrains in the multiple markets where the vans are sold. Today’s rear-wheel drive will continue to be the mainstream in the US, along with the four-wheel drive that is currently in the Sprinter’s mix. The new model will, however, also be available with front-wheel drive in some markets to lower the load floor, boosting interior volume and easing the driver’s loading of cargo.
Mercedes PRO telematics will provide with fleets a cloud-based vehicle management tool, with the telematics data served to a mobile app. Additionally, Mercedes PRO is a Linux-based vehicle platform that’s designed to encourage third-party vehicle apps to further enhance the van-as-a-transportation solution.
The Mercedes PRO is available already used on Sprinters in Germany, but with the new van and minibuses, customers will be able to use these services for their fleets. When inserted into a dedicated slot in the vehicle, the adapter establishes a connection between the vehicle, driver and fleet manager. The web-based service links the fleet manager with all vehicles and drivers in the fleet via the Vehicle Management Tool.
The Mercedes PRO adapter makes it possible to manage orders online, as well as check vehicle information – such as location, fuel level or maintenance intervals – almost in real time, said Mercedes-Benz.